Guide to Plastic Recycling Symbols
The society of the Plastics Industry, Inc. (SPI) introduced its resin identification coding system in 1988 at the urging of recyclers around the country. A growing number of communities were implementing recycling programs in an effort to decrease the volume of waste subject to
tipping fees at landfills. In some cases, these programs were driven by state·level recycling mandates. The SPI coding system offered a means of identifying the resin content of bottles and containers commonly found in the residential and commercial waste stream.
Recycle code # 1 is PETE (polyethylene terephthalate), a polyester resin found in: soft drink, water and beer bottles, mouth wash, peanut butter, salad dressing and vegetable oil containers and many other similar food packaging. It is the most common use for single-use bottled beverages. It is manufactured in very thin walls, is tight weight and more efficient than glass packaging. Garyline manufactures the Recycled code # 1 reusable sports bottles made with the food contact FDA safe resin, however the promotional product line, also known as "Refillables" is made in a heavy wall approximately five (5) times thicker. Single use PETE bottles are most often made in .005-.007" and the Refillable bottles are made approximately .030" in thickness. The Recycled code It 1 PETE bottles made in the heavier wall, can be reused and hand washed many hundreds of times, safely. The resin can be readily recycled into polar fleece, fiber, tote bags, furniture and carpeting. It is recycled today using approved FDA (NOL) procedures, which can be used for food contact recycled containers such as sports bottles, and can be molded in heavier walls to serve as refillable and re-useable containers. The sports bottles are not dishwasher safe, but can be safely hand washed and re-used many times. The resin is a clear transparent plastic and is often molded in transparent colors. This plastic is BPA free.
Recycle code # 2 is HDPE (high density polyethylene) and is found in milk bottles, juice bottles, shampoo bottles, cooking oil bottles, trash and shopping bags, butter and yogurt tubs. HDPE is a tough semi rigid resin, but lacks clarity, and is dishwasher safe. It is recycled into laundry detergent bottles, floor tiles, drainage pipe, benches and lumber products. It is used to manufacture sports bottles that are most always made in opaque colors, including a natural or frost like color. It is molded in a heavier wall than PETE, is re-usable, and is often used as a "bike" bottle. It is recycled today as a food contact FDA (NOL) procedure for use as sport bottles for beverages such as water, and is refillable and re-usable. Like most plastics, it can be recycled again and again. The commercial source for this food contact recycled resin has been recycled milk bottles, as it is a large volume use and readily available to certain recycling companies. This plastic is BPA free.
Recycle code # 3 is (Vinyl) or PVC and contains certain chemicals known as Phthalates. It should not be used for food packaging and should not be burned or incinerated. it is recycled for Industrial uses only and used in waste pipe and irrigation. Today there are Phthalate-Free vinyl materials, but they should be sold with independent lab testing documents. They are more expensive to manufacture, but do not have the Phthalate chemicals, and can be used safely. Phthalates may not be used in a product if the product is primarily for children 12 and under, or marketed to children with designs that children 12 and under may be attracted to. California has strict regulations and marking requirements for Vinyl products that contain Phthalates.
Recycle Code # 4 is LDPE (low density polyethylene) and is found in squeeze bottles, soft poly bags, furniture, carpet, and many household product including toys. It is used for "bike" bottles and other soft bottle applications. It is dishwasher safe. It is not available as a commercial recycled food contact resin. However, "Primary" or "Home" recycled resin may be used for food contact use, but it must follow the FDA recommended procedure. "Home" recycled plastic is purchased by a company which uses the "prime or first use" resin, and may use the recycled resin in the same workplace to manufacture products made from this original sourced resin. It is not recycled from outside sources, as it has not been commercially available from the same vendors that offer the PETE #1 recycled resin and the HDPE # 2 recycled resin. This plastic is BPA free.
Recycle Code # 5 is PP (polypropylene) and is found in yogurt containers, syrup bottles, ketchup bottles, caps, straws, and many food and other items used in consumer products. It is recycled into battery cables, brooms and brushes, landscape borders, racks, rakes, bins and pallets. PP has very good "contact clarity" and when used in thin walls will serve this purpose well. It is used in thin wall cups, in natural or transparent colors. It is dishwasher safe. Recycled PP is not available from outside sources, but is available as a "primary" or "Home" recycled resin and thus can be used for food contact products but it must follow the FDA (NOL) procedures, whereby the first use or original food contact resin is used in the same facility where it was received initially. This plastic is BPA free.
Recycle Code # 6 is PS (polystyrene) and is found in disposable plates and cups, meat trays, egg cartons, aspirin bottles, compact disc cases, and often recycled into insulation materials, egg cartons, rulers, and a host of non food articles, including toys and industrial products. It is a rigid and transparent material with high clarity and see through quality. It is dishwasher safe and BPA free.
Recycle Code # 7 is Other or Miscellaneous Plastics not otherwise classified. Today the very popular Tritan™ plastic was developed by Eastman Chemical in response to the outcry to ban the BPA chemical found in Polycarbonate plastics. Tritan™ is BPA free and has high heat resistance, is dishwasher safe, and is # 7. As new safe plastics are developed, they will most probably be properly classified # 7. As time goes on, there will be an effort made by State(s) or other regulatory agencies to expand the code system to help develop the recycling industry. Today Recycling is a vital part of our Ecological and Sustainable efforts in the U.S.A and the World.
A diagram of all of the recycled codes can be viewed by downloading the file below.
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