How to Recycle PP (Plastic #5)

Learn how to recycle PP plastics and do your part to keep the environment clean.

By Maryruth Belsey-Priebe

Fact checked by Sander Tamm

Recycling PP (Plastic #5)
Recycling PP (Plastic #5) / Sander Tamm / Ecolife

If you need a plastic that can take the heat, it’ll likely be polypropylene plastics (PP for short). With a high melting point, PP plastics are also great at preventing moisture transmission and are virtually inert in the face of things like acids and solvents. As such, you’ll find them used for food containers, medical tools, and automotive parts. Though perhaps less common than PETE or HDPE plastics, knowing how to recycle these PP plastics is no less important.

Environmental facts about plastic #5

As with any plastic, there are environmental hazards related to both the manufacturing and disposal of products made with PP plastics:

  • Aliases: Goes by polypropylene or PP.
  • Consumption rates: PP plastics in the US make up 1.8% of the plastic bottle market, making it the third most common type used for bottles (behind PET and HDPE plastics).
  • Pollution: When PP plastic is heated, it can form chemicals with unknown toxicity similar to BHT and BHA, raising concerns about pollution and human health.

What is PP plastic and where will you find it in your home?

Though not quite as widely used in everyday life as HDPE or LDPE plastics, plastic #5 can be found in many hidden products used in many regular routines:

  • Automotive parts
  • Bottle caps
  • Carpeting
  • Food containers – yogurt, deli foods, margarine, ketchup, syrup
  • Medicine bottles and containers
  • Microwaveable meal trays

What plastic #5 products are recycled into

What to know what plastic #5 becomes after it’s recycled? Here’s a list of just a few of the products that are made from recycled PP plastic:

  • Auto parts – battery cases, signal lights, battery cables
  • Bike racks
  • Brooms and brushes
  • Film sheeting
  • Garden rakes
  • Ice scrapers
  • Plastic trays
  • Shipping containers and pallets
  • Storage bins

Tips for PP recycling

Finding eco-friendly ways to dispose of your PP plastic starts with these plastic #5 recycling tips:

  • Curbside recycling: While recycling plastic #5 hasn’t been traditionally part of curbside programs, more and more community recyclers are not making it possible for you to recycle these types of plastic. Check with yours to see whether this convenient solution will be available to you.
  • Mail in and drop off programs: Keep an eye out for mail-in and drop-off programs, such as the 1 Million Bottle Cap Challenge or Aveda’s now-closed program for recycling plastic #5. These are particularly useful for those hard-to-recycle bottle caps and yogurt containers.