Editorial Feature

Polymer Resin Identification Codes - Plastics and Recycling

To facilitate the recycling of polymeric and plastic materials the Society of the Plastics Industry has developed a resin identification code. The accurate use of these codes by manufacturers can have a profound impact on the number of plastic materials that end up in landfills as well as the amount that is recycled into more plastic products.

The code was introduced in 1988 when plastics recycling began to gain in popularity. At the time it was designed to reduce the volume of plastics ending up in landfill.

Common Plastic Resins Codes

The majority of plastic packaging that is destined for recycling falls into the following categories:

Symbol
Abbreviation
Polymer Type
PET or PETE
Polyethylene Terephthalate
HDPE
High-Density Polyethylene
PVC
Polyvinyl Chloride or Vinyl
LDPE
Low-Density Polyethylene
PP
Polypropylene
PS
Polystyrene
Other
Polymers or blends of polymers that do not fall into the other 6 classifications.

Proper Use of the Resin Identification Code

Guidelines indicate that the code should be:

  • Molded, formed, or imprinted into the plastic container such that the symbol is at least 1/2" (12.5mm) tall
  • The symbol should appear on the bottom of the item, as close to the center as possible, and appearing in a similar location for all containers to enable quick and easy identification.

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