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Plastic Recycling

A plastic bottle that could be recycled.

The process of recycling plastic allows manufacturers to produce similar or completely different products from the original.

In recent times, the process of recycling household plastics has become much easier with the introduction of residential recycling bins in many areas of a large range of countries.

The main problem associated with recycling plastics is that in many cases, products which cannot be recycled are been produced from the recycled plastics.

Although recycling any product for a different use is slightly better than producing plastic products from the raw materials, it means the product will only be recycled once.

Plastics are one of the most difficult substances to recycle, and before the recycling process can begin, all of the plastic materials have to be sorted according to a “Resin Identification Code” (see below).

Sorting plastics can be an expensive and time consuming task, however this is vital for the recycling process.

There are roughly 50 different main groups of plastics, each containing many different varieties. The coding system was introduced to make the sorting of recyclable products easier and more universal.

Recycling is not only good for the environment through the energy saving involved, but also for the creation of jobs. It is said that recycling around 10,000 tons can produce as many as six times the amount of jobs as sending the products to landfill.

Resin Identification Codes

Below is a table illustrating the different “Resin Identification Codes” of plastic materials.

The table shows the common symbol used for each type of plastic product, an abbreviation along with the name of each polymer, and some common uses for each type of plastic.

Recycling CodeAbbreviationName Of PolymerCommon Uses Of Recycled Product
1PET / PETEPolyethylene terephthalatePolyester fibres, soft drink bottles.
Plastic Recycling Code 2HDPEHigh density polyethyleneBottles, plastic carrier bags, recycling bins.
Plastic Recycling Code 3PVC / VPolyvinyl chloridePipe, fencing, non-food bottles.
Plastic Recycling Code 4LDPELow density polyethylenePlastic bags, containers, dispensing bottles.
Plastic Recycling Code 5PPPolypropyleneAuto parts, industrial fibres.
Plastic Recycling Code 6PSPolystyreneCoffee cups, toys, video cassettes.
Plastic Recycling Code 7OTHEROther PlasticsVarious.

The symbols in the above table belong to the “SPI Resin Identification Coding System” developed in 1988.

If the symbol exists, with no number contained within it, then this shows the universal recycling logo, which can be used to identify a recyclable product.