The Plastics Identification Code


The Society of the Plastics Industry (SPI) was formed in the US in 1937. The SPI developed the Plastics Identification Code to provide a consistent system to identify various types of plastics and types of resins used in plastics, and to assist the public in the recycling of post-consumer plastics.

The PIC is stamped on many plastic products, but in Australia there are still many plastic containers such as those illustrated to the right that are not identified with a stamp, and so ... where do they go? To landfill generally. 

Illustrated are the various codes and descriptions of plastic goods. Take special note of these, and look for them on the plastic containers that you buy.


PETE or PET Polyethylene terephthalate (Polyester)


Uses       Plastic bottles for soft drinks, water, juice, sports drinks, beer, mouthwash, sauce and salad dressing, food jars (e.g. peanut butter, honey, jam and pickles), ovenable film and microwavable food trays. In addition to packaging, PET’s major uses are textiles, monofilament carpet, strapping, films, and engineering mouldings.

Recycling Uses      Fibres for carpet, clothing, and bags. Containers, especially for food and beverage products. Plastic film, sheeting, and straps.      


HDPE (High density polyethylene)


Uses       Bottles for milk, water, juice, cosmetics, shampoo, kitchen and laundry detergents, household cleaners. Bags for groceries and retail purchases, cereal box liners. Reusable shipping containers. HDPE’s other major uses are in injection moulding applications, extruded pipe and conduit, plastic wood composites, and wire and cable covering.

Recycling Uses     Bottles for non-food items e.g. shampoo/conditioner, liquid laundry detergent, household cleaners, motor oil and antifreeze. Plastic wood for outdoor decking, fencing and picnic tables. Pipe, floor tiles, buckets, crates, flower pots, garden edging, film and sheet, and recycling bins.     


PVC (Polyvinyl chloride - PVC, Vinyl)


Uses       Rigid packaging applications e.g. blister packs.

Flexible packaging e.g. bags for bedding, medical, shrink wrap, deli and meat wrap, and tamper resistant packs. PVC’s other major uses are rigid applications such as pipe, siding for buildings, window frames, fencing, decking and railing. Other flexible applications include medical products such as blood bags and medical tubing, wire and cable insulation, carpet backing, and flooring.

Recycling Uses       Pipe, decking, fencing, paneling, gutters, carpet backing, floor tiles and mats, resilient flooring, mud flaps, cassette trays, electrical boxes, cables, traffic cones, garden hose, mobile home skirting. Packaging, film and sheet, loose-leaf binders.


LDPE (Low density polyethylene)


Uses       Bags for ... dry cleaning, newspapers, bread, frozen foods, fresh produce, and household garbage. Shrink wrap and stretch film. Coatings for paper milk cartons and hot and cold beverage cups. Container lids. Toys. Squeezable bottles (e.g. honey and mustard). 
LDPE’s other major uses are in injection molding applications, adhesives and sealants, and wire and cable coverings.

Recycling Uses     Postal envelopes, garbage can liners, floor tiles, panelling, furniture, film and sheet, compost bins, trash cans, landscape timber, and outdoor furniture and decking.      


PP (Polypropylene)


Uses     Containers for yogurt, margarine, takeaway meals, deli foods. Medicine bottles, bottle caps and closures. Bottles for sauce and syrup. PP’s other major uses are in fibres, appliances and consumer products, including durable applications such as automotive and carpeting.        

Recycling Uses     Automobile applications (e.g. battery cases, signal lights, battery cables), brooms and brushes, ice scrapers, oil funnels, bicycle racks, garden rakes, storage bins, shipping pallets, sheeting, trays.       


PS (Polystyrene)


Uses     Food service items, such as cups, plates, bowls, cutlery, hinged takeout containers (clamshell type), meat and poultry trays, rigid food containers (e.g., yoghurt). These items may be made with foamed or non-foamed PS. Protective foam packaging for furniture, electronics and other delicate items. Packing beads/peanuts, known as “loose fill.” Compact disc cases, aspirin bottles. PS’s other major uses are in agricultural trays, electronic housings, cable spools, building insulation, video cassette cartridges, coat hangers, medical products, and toys.

Recycling Uses     Thermal insulation, thermometers, light switch plates, vents, desk trays, rulers, and license plate frames. Cameras or video cassette casings. Foamed food-service applications (e.g. egg shell cartons). Plastic mouldings (i.e., wood replacement products). Expandable polystyrene (EPS) foam protective packaging.


OTHER


Uses       Other plastics, including acrylic, polycarbonate, polylactic acid (corn plastic), nylon and fibreglass. Reusable water bottles, some citrus juice and sauce bottles. Oven-baking bags, barrier layers, and custom packaging.

Recycling Uses       Bottles and plastic wood applications.    



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