Mysteries of the Pyramids


In this episode, an archaeologist discovers the ancient recycling pyramids, which hold the hidden meanings of the recycling triangle numbers. As he explores the pyramid, he meets a helpful mummy who is an expert in recycling.

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The archaeologist, like many people, knows that a triangle of arrows is the universal recycling symbol but he does not understand the significance of the numbers. The mummy explains that the numbers are important because they tell you what type of plastic a product is made of.

1: Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) is the plastic that soda bottles are made of.

2: High-density polyethylene (HDPE) is often used to make milk jugs.

3: Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) can be made into plastic pipes.

4: Low-density polyethylene (LDPE) is the kind of plastic used to make plastic shopping bags.

5: Polypropylene (PP) is often used in the plastic parts of automobiles.

6: Polystyrene (PS) is used to make styrofoam.

7: Other plastics such as Nylon and Polylactic Acid (PLA).

If a plastic product has no number but it has the universal recycling symbol, this means it is recyclable. This numbering system is called the American Society of the International Association for Testing Materials (ASTM International) Resin Identification Coding System, but the full name is usually shortened to ASTM RIC or just RIC.

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The mummy helps the man by explaining that numbers 1, 2, 4, and 5 are all types of plastics can be recycled. The mummy also introduces a simple way to remember which plastics are recyclable, all you have to do is divide the plastics into three groups: (1 and 2), (4 and 5), and (3, 6 and 7). The first group, which includes 1 and 2, should always be recycled. The second group, containing numbers 4 and 5, is sometimes recycled; it depends on where you live. Contact your local solid waste service to find out if they accept plastics 4 and 5. The last group, made up of numbers 3, 6 and 7, is not recycled because these plastics are either not safe to recycle or the recycling process is costly and inefficient.

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Now that he knows the meanings of the RIC numbers, the archaeologist is ready to recycle the bottle he has been carrying with him. When he checks the bottom, he notices that it is marked with a triangle surrounding a number one. He now knows that this means it can be recycled safely. To learn more about other ways you and your family can recycle, click here to visit the Environmental Protection Agency’s comprehensive recycling guide.



Director: David Chai

Producer: Maaike Scherff

Editor: Keith Silva

Intro by: Mark Wanninger & Michael Salmassian

Cast: Cory Williams and Val Wingfield

Story: Melanie Joe

Backgrounds: Stella Longfish & Elizabeth Li

Film crew: Olivia Asis, Mike Cascino, Elizabeth Chee, Grace Chen, Crystal Cheng, Jonathan Cheung, Maaike Scherff, Mark Sho, Nikiel Suchit

Filmed at: Dwight Bentel JMC Studio

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