Foam Equipment's Blog

Plastic Recycling Resin Identification Codes

Posted by Jeff Knapp

Apr 12, 2010 3:28:00 PM

In 1988 The Society of Plastics Industry (SPI) developed the Resin Identification Code (RIC) system.   The codes were developed to provide a consistent national system to help workers on sorting lines identify post-consumer bottles using the 6 basic packaging resin classes.  The RIC system was not intended to imply recyclability.  Soon after their introduction, 39 states mandated that bottles and containers be marked with the recycling plastic Codes to assist source segregation at households.  This practice introduced the general public to the existence of the Code.  States also insisted on having an "OTHER" category.  The publics misinterpretation of the Codes, particularly OTHER, has become a serious problem.  The 6 basic resin classes (recycling numbers) no longer suffice to meet the needs of recyclers, particularly with regard to new resins and multi-material construction.   In 2008, SPI asked ASTM to take ownership of the codes.  ASTM agreed and initiated work to convert from the RIC to the ASTM standard format and address various issues using the ASTM consensus's based process.  ASTM is composed of 32,000 volunteer members from over 125 countries: consumers, producers design professionals, researchers, and academia.  Anyone with interest can participate on the ASTM committees.

ASTM's main focus

  • What to do about "7"
  • What to do about the Chasing Arrows symbol?
  • What defines "1", "2", "3", etc?
  • How do we handle multi-material and multi-layer structures?
  • Are new codes needed

Some information supplied from 

Topics: recycling plastic, Recycling codes, recycle numbers