Recycling codes on products

Recycling codes are used to identify the materials out of which the item is made, to facilitate easier recycling process. The presence on an item of a recycling code, a chasing arrows logo, or a resin code, is not an automatic indicator that a material is recyclable; it is an explanation of what the item is made of. Codes have been developed for batteries, biomatter/organic material, glass, metals, paper, and plastics.[citation needed] Various countries have adopted different codes. For example, the table below shows the polymer resin (plastic) codes. In the United States there are fewer, because ABS is placed with "others" in group 7.

A number of countries have a finer-grained system with more recycling codes. For example, China's polymer identification system has seven different classifications of plastic, five different symbols for post-consumer paths, and 140 identification codes.[1] The lack of a code system in some countries has encouraged those who fabricate their own plastic products, such as RepRap and other prosumer 3-D printer users, to adopt a voluntary recycling code based on the more comprehensive Chinese system.[2]

Resin identification codes and codes defined by the European Commission

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Symbol Code[3] Description Examples
Plastics (see resin identification code[4][5]) [6]
[a] 1 PET(E) Polyethylene terephthalate Polyester fibers, soft drink bottles, food containers (also see plastic bottles)
[a] 2 PEHD or HDPE High-density polyethylene Plastic milk containers, plastic bags, bottle caps, trash cans, oil cans, plastic lumber, toolboxes, supplement containers
[a] 3 PVC Polyvinyl chloride Window frames, bottles for chemicals, flooring, plumbing pipes
[a] 4 PELD or LDPE Low-density polyethylene Plastic bags, Ziploc bags, buckets, squeeze bottles, plastic tubes, chopping boards
[a] 5 PP Polypropylene Flower pots, bumpers, car interior trim, industrial fibers, carry-out beverage cups, microwavable food containers, DVD keep cases
[a] 6 PS Polystyrene Toys, video cassettes, ashtrays, trunks, beverage/food coolers, beer cups, wine and champagne cups, carry-out food containers, Styrofoam
[a] 7 O (Other) All other plastics Polycarbonate (PC), polyamide (PA), styrene acrylonitrile (SAN), acrylic plastics/polyacrylonitrile (PAN), bioplastics
ABS[citation needed] Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene Monitor/TV cases, coffee makers, cell phones, calculators, most computer plastic, Lego bricks, most FFF 3D printed parts that are not bioplastic such as PLA
PA[citation needed] Polyamide (Nylon) Toothbrush bristles, socks, stockings, etc.
Batteries (see also battery recycling)
8 Lead[citation needed] Lead–acid battery Car batteries
9 Alkaline Alkaline battery TV Remote batteries, flashlight batteries
10 NiCD Nickel–cadmium battery Older batteries
11 NiMH Nickel–metal hydride battery
12 Li Lithium battery Cell phone batteries, computer batteries, camera batteries
13 SO(Z) Silver-oxide battery
14 CZ Zinc–carbon battery Flashlight batteries
20 PAP Corrugated fiberboard (cardboard) Cardboard boxes
21 PAP Non-corrugated fiberboard (paperboard) Cereal and snack boxes
22 PAP Paper Newspaper, books, magazines, wrapping paper, wallpaper, paper bags, paper straws
40 FE Steel Food cans

41 ALU Aluminium Soft drink cans, deodorant cans, disposable food containers, aluminium foil, heat sinks
Biomatter/Organic material
50 FOR Wood Furniture, chopping boards, brooms, pencils, cocktail sticks, wooden spoons
51 FOR Cork Bottle stoppers, place mats, construction material
60 COT Cotton Towels, t-shirts, cotton buds/swabs, cotton pads
61 TEX Jute Clothing
62-69 TEX Other textiles
70 GL Clear Glass Food storage jars
71 GL Green Glass Wine bottles
72 GL Brown Glass Beer, light-sensitive products
73 GL Dark Sort Glass
74 GL Light Sort Glass
75 GL Light Leaded Glass Televisions, high-end electronics display glass like in calculators
76 GL Leaded Glass Older televisions, ash trays, older beverage holders
77 GL Copper Mixed/Copper Backed Glass Electronics, LCD display heads, clocks, watches
78 GL Silver Mixed/Silver Backed Glass Mirrors, formal table settings
79 GL Gold Mixed/Gold Backed Glass Computer glass, formal table settings
Composites (80—99)
80 Paper Paper and miscellaneous metals
81 PapPet Paper + plastic Consumer packaging, pet food bags, cold store grocery bags, Icecream containers, cardboard cans, disposable plates
82 Paper and fibreboard/Aluminium
83 Paper and fibreboard/Tinplate
84 C/PAP (or PapAl) Paper and cardboard/plastic/aluminium Liquid storage containers, juice boxes, cardboard cans, cigarette pack liners, gum wrappers, cartridge shells for blanks, fireworks colouring material, Tetra Brik.
85 Paper and fibreboard/Plastic/Aluminium/Tinplate
87 CSL (Card-Stock Laminate) Biodegradable plastic Laminating material, special occasion cards, bookmarks, business cards, flyers/advertising
90 Plastics/Aluminium Plastic toothpaste tubes/some vacuum packed coffee bags
91 Plastic/Tinplate
92 Plastic/Miscellaneous metals
95 Glass/Plastic
96 Glass/Aluminium
97 Glass/Tinplate
98 Glass/Miscellaneous metals
99 other
  1. ^ a b c d e f g For the resin codes, ASTM International has replaced the three-arrow symbol by a solid, equilateral triangle because "the code is designed for resin-identification purposes and not recyclability".[7] The three-arrow symbol was based on the Universal Recycling Symbol.

Chinese codes for plastics products

The Standardization Administration of the People's Republic of China (SAC) has defined material codes for different types of plastics in the document GB 16288-2008. The numbers are consistent with RIC up to #6.[8]

Code Abbreviation Name
1 PET polyethylene terephthalate
2 HDPE polyethylene, high density
3 PVC poly(vinyl chloride)
4 LDPE polyethylene, low density
5 PP polypropylene
6 PS polystyrene
7 AB Acrylonitrile-butadiene plastic
8 ABAK Acrylonitrile-butadiene-acrylate plastic
9 ABS Acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene plastic
10 ACS Acrylonitrile-chlorinated polyethylene-styrene
11 AEPDS Acrylonitrile-(ethylene-propylene-diene)-styrene plastic
12 AMMA Acrylonitrile-methyl-methacrylate plastic
13 ASA Acrylonitrile styrene acrylate plastic
14 CA cellulose acetate
15 CAB cellulose acetate butyrate
16 CAP cellulose acetate propionate
17 CEF cellulose formaldehyde
18 CF cellulose-formaldehyde resin
19 CMC carboxymethyl cellulose
20 CN cellulose nitrate
21 COC cycloolefin copolymer
22 CP cellulose propionate
23 CTA cellulose triacetate
24 E/P Ethylene-propylene plastic
25 EAA Ethylene-acrylic acid plastic
26 EBAK Ethylene-butyl acrylate plastic
27 EC ethyl cellulose
28 EEAK Ethylene-ethyl acrylate plastic
29 EMA Ethylene-methacrylic acid plastic
30 EP epoxide; epoxy resin or plastic
31 ETFE Ethylene-tetrafluoroethylene plastic
32 EVA Ethylene-vinyl acetate plastic
33 EVOH Ethylene-vinyl alcohol plastic
34 FEP perfluoro (ethylene-propylene) plastic
35 FF Furan-formaldehyde resin
36 LCP Liquid-crystal polymer
37 MABS methyl methacrylate-acrylnitrile-butadiene-styrene plastic
38 MBS methyl methacrylate-butadiene-styrene plastic
39 MC methyl cellulose
40 MF Melamine-formaldahyde resin
41 MP Melamine-phenol resin
42 MSAN α-methylstyrene-acrylonitrile plastic
43 PA polyamide
44 PAA poly(acrylic acid)
45 PAEK polyaryletherketone
46 PAI polyamidimide
47 PAK polyacrylate
48 PAN polyacrylonitrile
49 PAR polyarylate
50 PARA poly(aryl amide)
51 PB polybutene
52 PBAK poly(butyl acrylate)
53 PBAT poly(butylene adipate/terephthalate)
54 PBD 1,2-polybutadiene
55 PBN poly(butylene napthalate)
56 PBS polybuthylenesuccinate
57 PBT poly(butylene terephthalate)
58 PC polycarbonate
59 PCCE poly(cyclohexlyene dimethylene cyclo-hexanedicar-boxylate)
60 PCL polycaprolactone
61 PCT poly(cyclonhexylene dimethylene terephthalate)
62 PCTFE polychlorotrifluoroethylene
63 PDAP poly(diallyl phthalate)
64 PDCPD polydiclopentadiene
65 PEC polyester carbonate or poly(butylene succinate/carbonate)
66 PEC polyestercarbonate
67 PE-C polyethylene, chlorinated
68 PEEK polyetheretherketone
69 PEEST polyetherester
70 PEI polyetherimide
71 PEK polyetherketone
72 LLDPE polyethylene, linear low density
73 MDPE polyethylene, medium density
74 PEN poly(ethylene naphthalate)
75 PEOX poly(ethylene oxide)
76 PES poly(ethylene succinate)
77 PESTUR polyesterurethane
78 PESU polyethersulfone
79 UHMWPE polyethylene, ultra high molecular weight
80 PEUR polyetherurethane
81 VLDPE polyethylene, very low density
82 PF Phenol-formaldehyde resin
83 PFA Perfluoro alkoxyl alkane resin
84 PGA poly(glycolic acid)
85 PHA polyhydroxyalanoic or polyhydroxyalkanoates
86 PHB polyhydroxybutyric acid or polyhydroxybutyrate
87 PHBV poly-(hydroxybutyrate-co-hydroxyvalerate)
88 PI polyimide
89 PIB polyisobutylene
90 PIR polyisocyanurate
91 PK polyketone
92 PLA polylactic acid or poly lactide
93 PMI polymethacrylimide
94 PMMA poly(methyl methacrylate)
95 PMMI Poly-N-methylmethacrylimide
96 PMP poly-4-methylpenten-1
97 PMS Poly-α-methylstyrene
98 POM polyoxymethylene; polyacetal; polyformaldehyde
99 PPC carbon dioxide and propylene copolymer
100 PPDO Poly(p-dioxanone)
101 PPE poly(phenylene ether)
102 PP-E polypropylene, expandable
103 PP-HI polypropylene, high impact
104 PPOX poly(propylene oxide)
105 PPS poly(phenylene sulfide)
106 PPSU poly(phenylene sulfone)
107 EPS polystyrene, expandable
108 HIPS polystyrene, high impact
109 PSU polysulfone
110 PTFE poly tetrafluoroethylene
111 PTMAT poly(tetramethylene adipate/terephthalate)
112 PTT poly(trimethylene terephthalene)
113 PUR polyurethane
114 PVA poly(vinyl acetate)
115 PVOH poly(vinyl alcohol)
116 PVB poly(vinyl butyral)
117 PVC-C poly(vinyl chloride), chlorinated
118 PVC-U poly(vinyl chloride), unplasticized
119 PVDC poly(vinylidene chloride)
120 PVDF poly(vinylidene fluoride)
121 PVF poly(vinyl fluoride)
122 PVFM poly(vinyl formal)
123 PVK Poly-N-vinylcarbazole
124 PVP Poly-N-vinylpyrrolidine
125 SAN Styrene-acrylonitrile plastic
126 SB Styrene-butadiene plastic
127 SI silicone plastic
128 SMAH Styrene-maleic anyhydride plastic
129 SMS Styrene-α-methylstyrene plastic
130 UF Urea-formaldehyde resin
131 UP unsaturated polyester resin
132 VCE vinyl chloride-ethylene plastic
133 VCEMAK vinyl chloride-ethylene-methyle-acrylate plastic
134 VCEVAC vinyl chloride-ethylene-vinyl acrylate plastic
135 VCMAK vinyl chloride-methyl acrylate plastic
136 VCMMA vinyl chloride-methyl methacrylate plastic
137 VCOAK vinyl chloride-octyl acrylate plastic
138 VCVAC vinyl chloride-vinyl acetate plastic
139 VCVDC Vinylchloride-vynylidene chloride plastic
140 VE vinyl ester resin

Alternative recycling labels

The following recycling label projects are designed with the consumer in mind while SPI or Resin Identification Codes are designed to be recognized by waste sorting facilities. They provide an alternative that eliminates confusion as people often mistake any resin code to be recyclable, but this is not necessarily true. The recyclability of the numbers depends on the abilities of the facilities in the community.[9] Thus, they are not all automatically recyclable.

How2Recycle is a project that started in 2008.[10] The label provides information about the packaging material and clearly indicates whether it is recyclable, partially or totally. If it is not recyclable at all, it is shown by a diagonal line going through the recycling label.

On-Pack Recycling Label used in the UK.[11] It is very simple and only states whether it is recyclable or not.

See also


  1. ^ Standardization Administration of the People’s Republic of China (SAC) GB16288, 2008. Marking of plastics products. Chinese Standard Publishing House, Beijing; 2008.
  2. ^ Emily J. Hunt, Chenlong Zhang, Nick Anzalone, Joshua M. Pearce, Polymer recycling codes for distributed manufacturing with 3-D printers, Resources, Conservation and Recycling, 97, pp. 24-30 (2015). DOI:10.1016/j.resconrec.2015.02.004
  3. ^ "EUR-Lex - 31997D0129 - EN - EUR-Lex". Retrieved 22 April 2018.
  4. ^ Plastic Packaging Resins American Chemistry Council
  5. ^ Marking of plastic dishes: see, deciphering markers in plastic containers Plastic how to grind plastic utensils
  6. ^ a b Official Journal of the EC; Commission Decision (97/129/EC) establishing the ID system for packaging materials pursuant to European Parliament & Council Directive 94/62/EC
  7. ^ Jessica Holbrook. Say so long to recycling code arrows. June 2013.
  8. ^ Standardization Administration of the People’s Republic of China (SAC) GB 16288-2008. Marking of plastics products 塑料制品的标志. Chinese Standard Publishing House, Beijing; 2008, as cited in E. J. Hunt, C. Zhang, N.Anzalone, and J. M. Pearce. Polymer Recycling Codes for Distributed Manufacturing with 3-D Printers, Resources, Conservation and Recycling 97, pp. 24–30 (2015). doi:10.1016/j.resconrec.2015.02.004
  9. ^ "Plastic by the Numbers".
  10. ^ "Labels - How2Recycle".
  11. ^ "Label Objectives".