Operation ID Plastic Packaging

What the heck is a resin ID code?

You can exhale now. Phew! I hope that wasn’t too strenuous. I know you’ve all been holding your breath until I posted something here about the resin identification coding system. I mean, I did talk it up. Breathe now, the time has come to discuss that little rounded triangle, with arrows and a number, on the bottom of plastic packaging. AKA resin identification code, the symbol is simply a way to identify a container’s polymer type and facilitate the recycling of post-consumer plastics by providing a consistent, uniform national system.

The resin ID coding system was designed to help all parties involved: consumers, manufacturers, recyclers. Our job as consumers is to take a peek at the bottom of plastic containers and identify the resin content. The seven plastic resin codes help us figure out whether and how to recycle all the plastic products invading our everyday lives. Now, there are countless articles out there on the world wide web breaking down the 7 resin codes, so I won’t beat a dead horse here…but I must say that this table is quite useful (and dare I say the best snapshot?). For each number, you’ll find a pretty little graphic, detailed description, properties of the polymer, product applications, and products made with recycled content.

One last thing to add. Municipal (curbside) recycling programs traditionally pick up only codes #1 and 2. For those other plastics coded #3-7, you may have to contact a local recycling facility or do a little digging on recycling programs in your area as new markets become available for polymers.