Recycling Plastic

Plastic is the second largest item by volume found in California landfills. Many plastics can be recycled. Recycling will save the resources it takes to make new plastics and prevents the material from going to waste.

Recycling your plastics in your curbside program:

Hauling Company Plastics Accepted
recycleworks Recology San Mateo County
Plastics numbered 1-7 including bottles and caps, tubs and lids, and containers, including clamshells. Also accepts plastic buckets & coffee cup lids. No bags or black plastics.
recycleworks Recology of the Coast
Plastic containers (#1-7); food and beverage containers, plastic milk jugs, shampoo, detergent and bleach bottles, etc.  No Styrofoam, clear hinged containers, berry baskets, plastic bags
recycleworks Allied Waste Daly City
Plastic containers (#1-7);  no Styrofoam, black plastic, nursery plant containers, buckets, baskets, crates, plastic grocery bags or other film plastics or clear hinged containers
recycleworks GreenWaste Recovery
#1-7, no plastic bags
recycleworks Recology San Bruno
Plastic bottles (#1-7) , wide-mouth containers (#2-#5). No take-out food containers, shrink wrap and plastic bags, Styrofoam and packing peanuts
recycleworks South San Francisco Scavenger Company
Plastic bottles and dairy tubs. No Styrofoam, plastic packaging, plastic bags

To find out which garbage company serves your city, check our map of curbside programs.

Look on the bottom of a container for a number within a triangle. That's the code describing where the container fits in the above numbering system. Learn more about the plastic recycling numbering system.

Drop Off Locations

Plastic Bales Our Plastics Guide tells you where you can take your plastics, and where to recycle things other than plastic containers.

Our CRV Guide tells you where to return your plastic beverage containers (and aluminum cans and glass beverage bottles) for payment.

If you would like information on commercial plastics, you can check our Recycling Center Database.

Plastic Bags:

Plastic films, which include bags, are one of the largest components of plastic waste. Help to change this! Many grocery stores, especially large ones, accept plastic bags of all sorts for recycling. Search by zip code for a location near you that accepts plastic bags for recycling.

Plastics Facts:

  • Plastics are made from oil or coal treated with a heat and pressure process, and mixed with a variety of stabilizers and fillers. Different "recipes" create various properties such as strength, stiffness, and transparency. The substance is then shaped or molded.

  • There are over 50,000 types of plastic. Plastics must be sorted for recycling since each type melts at a different temperature and has different properties. The plastics industry has developed a series of codes to label the seven major types of plastic. These are generally found on the bottom of the containers, within a triangle.

  • Plastic is recycled by melting each type of plastic with a comparable type. Often plastic resin pellets are then formed, creating the building blocks for making plastic products.

  • While it is technically possible to recycle black plastic, it is not done because there is not enough black plastic in the waste stream to justify the cost of recycling it; for practical reasons, black plastic can only be recycled with other black plastic. Black and other colored plant nursery pots are reusable.

  • Certain plastics, like the ones water bottles are made of, lose their qualities when recycled back into the very same product. For this reason, plastic is recycled into a number of different items.

For more information on plastics recycling, visit the Ecology Center Plastics Task Force website.

What Plastic Bottles Are Recycled Into:

Most U.S. plastic bottles are recycled into polyester fiber for use in t-shirts, carpet, and fill for sleeping bags. It's estimated that 50% of all polyester carpet is made from recycled plastic bottles. Other uses of used bottles are plastic stretch film and containers.

Playground with Recycled Plastic Equipment

Products that can be made from plastic:

  • furniture
  • tote bags
  • plastic lumber
  • car parts
  • flower pots
  • playground equipment


This location explores products made from plastics in more detail.