Understanding the Resin Identification Code


The Resin Identification Code was an industry invention that was carried through many state legislatures in the late 1980s during a time of increased attention on the proliferation of plastics and and an increased awareness over the need for recycling. Although the resin code is valuable in that it identifies for consumers and recyclers the types of resin being used, it is often misinterpreted to denote that all plastics with a resin code are actually recycled. In reality, generally only plastics #1 (PETE) and #2 (HDPE) are economical to recycle and thus are accepted widely in curbside programs and dropoff centers.

More About the Different Resin Codes:

Resin Code

Name

Uses and Recyclability

 

polyethylene terephthalate

 

Most commonly found in beverage bottles, which are widely recyclable and accepted in curbside programs.

 

 

high density polyethylene

 

Some beverage containers, such as milk jugs, which are widely recyclable and accepted in curbside programs. Other uses, such as for shopping bags, are recycled less and are not accepted in curbside programs.

 

vinyl/polyvinyl chloride (PVC)

 

Used in some food packaging and in personal care products. Not accepted in most curbside programs. PVC can be toxic.

 

low density polyethylene

 

Used as clear wrap in food packaging and in garbage bags. Not accepted in most curbside programs.

 

polypropylene

 

Used in some rigid plastic food containers such as ketchup bottles and in medicine bottles. Not accepted in most curbside programs.

 

polystyrene

Foamed form used in takeout food packaging and is not accepted in curbside programs as it is uneconomical to recycle. Its solid form, used to make hard casings such as CD jewel cases, is not accepted in curbside programs either. PS is a principle component of marine debris and litter.

 

other/composite/PLA

 

Other plastics, including composites, which are not accepted in curbside programs. Currently the “7” category includes compostable bioplastics such as PLA, which are accepted in some curbside food composting programs.

 

More Plastics Resources:

 

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