An Overview on Plastic Coding System for Resin Types

Plastic Codes

Plastic buyers in Michigan have a challenging job. They sift through and carefully sort a variety of products and materials, and everything has to be cleaned and processed. Although industrial and commercial plastics can be recycled into a number of items, the process isn’t always as easy as you might imagine. Fortunately, the Plastic Industry Association has a coding system that helps you identify what can and can’t be recycled with easy-to-remember numbers (1-7).


You’re already well acquainted with number 1, also know as PETE (polyethylene terephthalate). This is the plastic used to create plastic bottles, such as water bottles, or bottles for sports drinks. It’s the most common type of plastic that’s used for drink and food containers. You may have a bin set aside for these bottles at work. After it’s recycled, number 1 can be turned into carpet, rope, or tote bags.


Number 2 is HDPE (high-density polyethylene) and is one of the most common types of plastic to be recycled. It’s used to make milk jugs, shampoo bottles, or bottles for cleaning supplies, and laundry detergent. Many soaps are sold and stored in HDPE (number 2) packaging, although it’s also used for food or drinks. When recycled, it becomes fencing, packing crates, or certain kinds of lumber.


Practically everyone knows number 3, also called PVC (polyvinyl chloride). As far as recycling is concerned, it’s not as popular as 1 or 2, but it’s common in plumbing. Depending on the sort of work you do, you could go through an awful lot of PVC, which is used extensively in construction projects. PVC can vary in terms of its rigidity and hardness. Once it has been recycled, PVC is used to create traffic cones, cable, flooring, park benches, and speed bumps.


Number 4 isn’t recycled frequently, but many recycling centers are learning to work with LDPE (low-density polyethylene). This plastic is found in storage bags, such as sandwich bags, grocery bags, and even squeezable bottles. Although it doesn’t have the established reputation of other plastics, it’s recycled into many low-end items, such as garbage cans or furniture.


PP (polypropylene) is also known as number 5. You can find 5 in Tupperware, yogurt packaging, and butter or margarine containers. It’s know for its ability to work well at low temperatures, which is why it’s usually in the cold section at the grocery store. If you work in refrigeration or with many refrigerated products, you’re familiar with PP. When recycled, it’s used to make ice trays, brooms, and bins. It’s a durable material.

Plastic Regrind


Polystyrene (PS), commonly called Styrofoam, is number 6. Although it can be recycled, it’s not an efficient process. Researchers are working to improve the efficiency of PS recycling, but it’s still in development. PS is a great material for storing food or drinks temporarily. After recycling, PS is made into hot lids, disposable cutlery, or insulation.


Number 7 is an exception to the rule. This isn’t a specific type of plastic. Instead, this is a miscellaneous category for plastics not included in 1-6. Both BPA and polycarbonate (PC) are included as part of number 7. You know PC, because it’s the main component of CDs, DVDs, and medical storage containers, as well as some water bottles. BPA is found in epoxy resins, and it’s an industrial chemical.

Plastic buyers in Michigan certainly appreciate it when these categories are considered and identification is made easier. Speak with Seraphim Plastics at 888-423-1927 if you have any questions or require assistance.