What Are the Resin Identification Codes from SPI?

Resin Identification Codes were introduced in 1988 by SPI. SPI is now known as The Plastics Industry Trade Association (formerly Society of the Plastics Industry). The codes are intended to facilitate the sorting of similar looking plastics at recycling centers across the country. While there is no federal legislation or requirements to use these symbols, many states now mandate them. The Resin Identification Codes are a seven number system. Each code has a number from 1-7 inside a triangle of three bending arrows. However, only 1,2,4,and 5 are recycled by most municipalities.

SPI Resin Codes

#1 PETE or PET (Polyethylene terephthalate). It was once called Dacron. It is a clear, strong, lightweight plastic. Virtually all single-serving and 2 liter bottles of soda and water sold in the U.S. are made from PET. It is also used for packaging salad dressings, cooking oils, window cleaner, shampoo, mouthwash, liquid hand soap and peanut butter.


#2 This is the resin identification code for (HDPE) High Density Polyethylene. HDPE is a thermoplastic made from petroleum. It is a very versatile plastic material. HDPE plastic is used in a wide variety of applications, including colored plastic bottles. It is used to make most colored containers like laundry detergent bottles. Also, HDPE is used to make milk jugs, shampoo bottles, bleach bottles, cutting boards, and pipes. It has high-impact resistance as well as a high melting point.


#3 Polyvinyl Chloride PVC or vinyl is a widely used plastic. But Polyvinyl Chloride cannot be recycled. PVC is used in the construction industry to produce door and window profiles. It is also used in wire and cable installations in addition to windshield system components. PVC is also used to make pipes for drinking and for wastewater. Additionally, this plastic is made into medical devices, blood bags, medical tubing, as well as toys, bottle caps and carpet.etc. It is the world’s third most used plastic after polyethylene and polypropylene.


#4 This is the resin identification code for (LDPE) Low Density Polyethylene. LDPE is clear or translucent. It is flexible, as well as chemical and water resistant. Low Density Polyethylene is used to make a wide variety of products including dry cleaners bags, produce bags, plastic garbage bags and plastic wrap and film. Additionally, LDPE is used to manufacture injection molded parts. It is not generally recycled.


#5 Polypropylene(PP) The triangle for polypropylene will have a 5 in it. PP has a high melting point, so it’s often used to make containers that will hold hot liquid. It’s gradually becoming more accepted by recyclers. PP is used to make potato chip bags and the bags inside cereal boxes. Polypropylene is used to make food containers for sour cream, yogurt and margarine. It is also used to make bottle caps and carpets as well as syrup and medicine bottles.


#6 PS has a resin identification code of 6. You will recognize this as the material your coffee cups may be made of. Unfortunately, polystyrene is not generally recycled and accounts for 35% of landfill material.


#7 Misc. Number seven includes nylon, poly-carbonate and acrylic. Also, it includes a plastic new to the codes as well as multi-layer combinations of several different plastics. Also, seven includes poly-lactic acid or PLA a recently developed corn derived plastic. PLA is not generally recycled. Number 7 is the only resin identification code that represents a group of resins. However, some of these plastics can be recycled and some cannot. So an object imprinted with number seven should not go into the recycling bin.

How to Find the Code on a Product

Sometimes the resin identification code is molded into the plastic itself. Sometimes it is found on the label of the product. So before you decide to throw something into the recycling bin, make sure you check to see if there is a triangle on it and that the number inside it is 1,2, 4-5. As we know 3, 6 and 7 cannot be recycled.

Remember this is not a federally mandated system. You may think you can identify the plastic without checking out the number. However, without that code the person sorting the plastics will not know exactly what the resin is for processing purposes and the object will go in the trash away.

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