Plastics in Everyday Household Articles

Household adhesives can be used for gluing plastic together, with varying degrees of success, depending on the glue and the plastic. Refer to the table below, which lists the major types of plastics and how they are used in common household and industrial products.

Plastics in Everyday Household Articles

Household Article

Type of Plastic

Bottles and other containers

Polyethylene, polypropylene


Polyethylene, polypropylene

Dishware (plastic, of course)

Melamine resin†, polystyrene

Glasses (drinking)


  Clear, hard




Insulated cups

Polystyrene foam (Styrofoam)

Foam cushions

Polyurethane foam

Electrical circuit boards

Laminated epoxies, phenolic



  Caulking compounds

Polyurethane, silicone, PVAc*

  Patching compounds

Polyester, fiberglass


Epoxy, polyester, PVAc



  Audio tape


  Food wrap

Polyethylene, polypropylene



Garden hose


Insulation foam

Polystyrene, polyurethane

Plumbing pipes


  Fresh water

PVC, polyethylene

  Gray water, sewage


Siding and paneling





Polyethylene, polypropylene


Polystyrene, ABS

Tubing (clear or translucent)

Polyethylene, PVC

†  Melamine resin is the fancy name for things like Formica. It’s a plastic, but it can’t be remelted into usable shapes. Gluing may be difficult with common adhesives.

*   PVAc is not the same as PVC. PVAc stands for polyvinyl acetate, a kind of plastic used in common household glues, among other things.

Decoding Plastic ID Symbols

You’ve seen them on the bottoms of bottles and canisters. They’re the funny circular arrow thingamajigs with numbers inside. You know this already—these funky graphics are ID symbols designed to help consumers and recyclers tell the difference between various plastics.

If you’re building robots out of junk you find around the house, it can be darned useful to know what kind of plastic it is, in case you want to join two or more pieces with some solvent cement. Why is this important? Because different plastics require different kinds of solvent cements. A solvent for one plastic may do absolutely nothing for another.

Here’s what the ID symbols mean:

Recycle Code

Plastic Name

Common Household Items

PET and PETE - polyethylene terephthalate

Soft-drink bottles, containers for food and other consumer products, water bottles, peanut butter jars

HDPE- high density polyethylene

Milk and juice bottles, dishwashing and laundry detergent, grocery bags

PVC - polyvinyl chloride

Bottles, food trays, rigid sheets used for packaging, electrical insulation, irrigation pipes

LDPE - low-density polyethylene

Squeeze bottles, wire insulation, grocery bags, trash bags, food storage bags

PP - polypropylene

Fruit and vegetable packages, bottle caps, drinking straws (telltale sign: cloudy appearance)

PS - polystyrene

Packaging, CD covers, Styrofoam, egg cartons, packing “peanuts,” plastic tableware, carryout containers

A combination of plastics, or none of the above

Items already made from recycled goods, semi-rigid food storage, drinking cups