Recycling Plastics Facts

CPIA has been working with municipalities, manufacturers,
residents and recyclers to make recycling a reality for more than 30 years.

Nearly 80% of plastic packaging can technically be recycled. And nearly all Canadians live in areas where they can recycle at least a few plastic packaging materials. With that in mind, here’s a summary of current recycling opportunities for some of the most familiar items.

Plastic resin code guide    

Plastic Bags Plastic Bags & Overwrap

Look for it in: plastic bags, plastic food overwrap, agricultural plastic, plastic pallet wrap, many other kinds of packaging bags and overwrap.

Film Drop Off DirectoryCan plastic bags & overwrap be recycled? Yes! and there’s a searchable online tool to let you know if it’s accepted in your program.

More about plastic bags and overwrap and recycling 

Polystyrene Foam CupPolystyrene (PS)

Look for it in: foam PS packaging as protection for durable goods, hot/cold foam cups and clamshells, and as ‘rigid’ PS packaging for bakery trays, cutlery, yogurt containers and drinking cups.

  Can polystyrene be recycled: Yes! Polystyrene is technically recyclable but is not yet accepted in all recycling programs.

More about polystyrene and recycling 

Plastic Bottles & CapsPlastic bottles and caps

Look for bottles: made largely, but not exclusively of PET (#1) plastics that contain pop, juice, water and some liquors and HDPE (#2) that are usually more opaque and used for soaps, detergents and cleansers and Polypropylene – PP (#5) that may contain ketchup, syrup and medicine. You’ll see bottles of other resin types too but these are the ‘big three’; and they also include caps that are made largely of HDPE (#2) and PP (polypropylene) (#5) plastic. 

Can bottles and caps be recycled? Yes! #1 and #2 bottles are accepted in nearly all recycling programs across Canada while #5 plastic is accepted in most programs (with some regional differences). While caps may be made of different materials, CPIA encourages recycling programs to include them

More about plastic bottles and caps 

Plastic Tubs & LidsPlastic tubs and lids

Look for plastic tubs and lids: made largely of PP – polypropylene (#5) and used to package dairy products and items like margarine, ice cream as well as some personal care products.

Can they be recycled? Yes! Plastic tubs and lids are recyclable. Despite good end markets for these materials they aren't yet accepted in all programs so be sure to check first. 

More about plastic tubs and lids 

Other plastics

There are seven types of plastic resins used to create packaging and they’re identified by “resin identification codes” displayed inside a triangle, often on the bottom of a container. These resins create a massive range of shapes, sizes and colours of plastic packaging to perform a variety of functions. Many can be recycled but some aren’t routinely collected for recycling. The key is to keep an eye on what your local recycling program accepts and recycle all you can.