June 14 - New Look for Plastic Resin Identification Codes

The American Society for Testing & Materials (ASTM) announced this week that it is changing the Resin Identification Codes (RIC) for plastics.

According to Waste & Recyling News the old codes, usually located on the bottom of plastic products and showing a number (1-7) inside the "chasing arrows" triangle, were never intended to indicate the recyclability of an item. The codes are specifically intended to help recyclers identify the type of resin that was used in the mold when the item was being made and avoid contamination of one type of resin with another during the recycling process. Some municipal recycling programs, as well some recycling centers, do not accept all 7 types of resin, leading to confusion for consumers who mistake the code for the recycling symbol.

By replacing the chasing arrows graphic - commonly associated with recycling - with an eqilateral triangle, ASTM D7611 helps bring focus back to the system's core mission: resin identification and quality control prior to recycling, said ASTM in a press release.

The new code features a number (1-7) inside a solid equilateral triangle. Currently, 39 states require use of the existing labeling system, including California. In order to avoid piecemeal implementation or having two different codes, the ASTM plastics committee is working with state representatives to develop a plan for a smooth transition.

Find out more about plastics recycling in California.

Graphic by ASTM, credit: Waste & Recycling News