Recycling by Number – Plastic Resin Identification Code Explained

Have you ever been puzzled by the different symbols on your plastic products? A recycling logo with a number inside should be viable on these types of product, this logo is a Plastic Resin Identification Code.

This identifies the type of plastic resin used to make the item by providing a ‘Resin Identification Code’. It is represented with a ‘chasing arrows’ symbol surrounding a a number between 1 and 7 that defines the resin used. But what does each logo mean?

Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) –

Used for – Soft drink bottles, juice containers, food packaging (e.g. fruit punnets) etc.
Easy to recycle – usually in home recycling bins once cleaned.
Next Life – Once recycled it is reprocessed into new PET products.

High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE) –

Used for – Milk cartons, cleaning agents (e.g. shampoo bottles), yogurt pots etc.
Easy to recycle – usually in home recycling bins once cleaned.
Next Life – Once recycled it is reprocessed into garden furniture, pipes and milk cartons

Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) –

Used for – Piping, window fittings, thermal insulation, car parts etc.
Difficult to recycle – these products are not easily recycled, but can often be re-used.
Next Life – Reused and where possible reprocessed into more PVC products.

Low-Density Polyethylene (LDPE) –

Used for – Shrink wrap, food bags, shopping bags, magazine wrapping, 6-pack rings etc.
Manageable to recycle – check with your local collection service to see if they are accepting LDPE plastic items for recycling. You can often re-use these products aswell.
Next Life – Reused or reprocessed into bin liners, plastic furniture and floor tiles.

Polypropylene (PP) –

Used for – Food containers (e.g. margarine tubs), auto parts, microwaveable tubs etc.
Easy to recycle – very easy to re-use, can often be recycled in the kerbside recycling.
Next Life – Once recycled it is reprocessed into more food containers, clothing fibers etc.

Polystyrene (PS) –

Used for – Takeaway containers, protective or industrial packaging, coffee cups.
Difficult to recycle – these products are not easily recycled, however there are a few places that will accept and recycle them – this requires research.
Next Life – If successfully recycled it is reprocessed into more packaging.

Other forms of plastic (Other) –

Used for – Crisp packets, composites, salad packaging, baby bottles, acrylic/nylon products etc.
Very difficult to recycle – these products are not easily recycled or for re-use, they simply go in the general waste bin.
Next Life – Goes to landfill