Real Simple magazine offers a primer on recycling plastics, including a cheat sheet on what the plastic recycling symbols mean. "People think the symbol means the item is recyclable, but that's not always true," says Marti Matsch of Colorado-based Eco-Cycle. While most plastics are recyclable, "the symbol identifies what a certain plastic is made of," says Keith Christman, senior director of packaging at the American Chemistry Council Plastics Division.

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