Here's a little background on where the recycling numbers embossed on plastics come from.
In 1998,The Society of the Plastics Industry decided to create an easy to follow coding system (resin identification codes) to help consumers know what type of plastic an item was made from. The idea was that this would promote proper recycling of the items.
The coding system ranges from 1-7.
Separation of these different types of plastics is essential in the recycling process--part of what makes recycling "expensive" (which is a relative term, given the environmental cost of NOT recycling)  Even one item of the wrong type of resin can ruin a mix.
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