Recycling codes

Recycling codes are used to identify the material from which an item is made, to facilitate easier recycling or other reprocessing. Having a recycling code, the chasing arrows logo or a resin code on an item is not an automatic indicator that a material is recyclable but rather an explanation of what the item is. Such symbols have been defined for batteries, biomatter/organic material, glass, metals, paper, and plastics. Various countries have adopted different codes. For example, the table below shows the polymer resin codes (plastic) for a country. In the United States there are fewer, as ABS is grouped in with others in group 7. Other countries have a more granular recycling code system. For example, China's polymer identification system has seven different classifications of plastic, five different symbols for post-consumer paths, and 140 identification codes.[1] The lack of codes in some countries has encouraged those who can fabricate their own plastic products, such as RepRap and other prosumer 3-D printer users, to adopt a voluntary recycling code based on the more comprehensive Chinese system.[2]

List of resin identification codes (RIC) and codes defined by the European Commission

Symbol Code[3] Description Examples
Plastics (see resin identification code[4]) [5]
[lower-alpha 1] #1 PET(E) Polyethylene terephthalate Polyester fibers, soft drink bottles, food containers (also see plastic bottles)
[lower-alpha 1] #2 PEHD or HDPE High-density polyethylene Plastic milk containers, plastic bags, bottle caps, trash cans, oil cans, plastic lumber, toolboxes, supplement containers
[lower-alpha 1] #3 PVC Polyvinyl chloride Window frames, bottles for chemicals, flooring, plumbing pipes
[lower-alpha 1] #4 PELD or LDPE Low-density polyethylene Plastic bags, Ziploc bags, buckets, squeeze bottles, plastic tubes, chopping boards
[lower-alpha 1] #5 PP Polypropylene Flower pots, bumpers, car interior trim, industrial fibers, carry-out beverage cups, microwavable food containers, DVD keep cases
[lower-alpha 1] #6 PS Polystyrene Toys, video cassettes, ashtrays, trunks, beverage/food coolers, beer cups, wine and champagne cups, carry-out food containers, Styrofoam
[lower-alpha 1] #7 O (OTHER) All other plastics Polycarbonate (PC), polyamide (PA), styrene acrylonitrile (SAN), acrylic plastics/polyacrylonitrile (PAN), bioplastics
#ABS Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene Monitor/TV cases, coffee makers, cell phones, calculators, most computer plastic, Lego bricks, most FFF 3D printed parts that are not bioplastic such as PLA
PA Polyamide Nylon like toothbrush bristles, socks, stockings, ect
Batteries (see also battery recycling)
#8 Lead Lead–acid battery Car batteries
#9 Alkaline Alkaline battery TV Remote batteries, flashlight batteries
#10 NiCD Nickel–cadmium battery Older batteries
#11 NiMH Nickel–metal hydride battery
#12 Li Lithium battery Cell phone batteries, computer batteries, camera batteries
#13 SO(Z) Silver-oxide battery
#14 CZ Zinc–carbon battery Flashlight batteries
Paper [5]
#20 PAP Corrugated fiberboard (cardboard) Cardboard boxes
#21 PAP Non-corrugated fiberboard (paperboard) Cereal and snack boxes
#22 PAP Paper Newspaper, books, magazines, wrapping paper, wallpaper, paper bags, paper straws
#40 FE Steel Food cans

#41 ALU Aluminium Soft drink cans, deodorant cans, disposable food containers, aluminium foil, heat sinks
Biomatter/Organic material
#50 FOR Wood Furniture, chopping boards, brooms, pencils, cocktail sticks, wooden spoons
#51 FOR Cork Bottle stoppers, place mats, construction material
#60 COT Cotton Towels, t-shirts, cotton buds/swabs, cotton pads
#61 TEX Jute Clothing
#62-69 TEX Other Textiles
#70 GL Clear Glass jars
#71 GL Green Glass wine glass
#72 GL Brown Glass
#73 GL Dark Sort Glass
#74 GL Light Sort Glass
#75 GL Light Leaded Glass Televisions, high-end electronics display glass like in calculators
#76 GL Leaded Glass Older televisions, ash trays, older beverage holders
#77 GL Copper Mixed/Copper Backed Glass Electronics, LCD display heads, clocks, watches
#78 GL Silver Mixed/Silver Backed Glass Mirrors, formal table settings
#79 GL Gold Mixed/Gold Backed Glass Computer glass, formal table settings
Composites (80—99)
#81 PapPet Paper + plastic Consumer packaging, pet food bags, cold store grocery bags, Icecream containers, cardboard cans, disposable plates
#82 Paper and fibreboard/Aluminium
#83 Paper and fibreboard/Tinplate
#84 C/PAP (or PapAl) Paper and cardboard/plastic/aluminium Liquid storage containers, juice boxes, cardboard cans, cigarette pack liners, gum wrappers, cartridge shells for blanks, fireworks colouring material, Tetra Brik.
#85 Paper and fibreboard/Plastic/Aluminium/Tinplate
#87 CSL (Card-Stock Laminate) Biodegradable plastic Laminating material, special occasion cards, bookmarks, business cards, flyers/advertising
#90 Plastics/Aluminium plastic toothpaste tubes
#91 Plastic/Tinplate
#92 Plastic/Miscellaneous metals
#95 Glass/Plastic
#96 Glass/Aluminium
#97 Glass/Tinplate
#98 Glass/Miscellaneous metals
  1. For the resin codes, ASTM International has replaced the three-arrow symbol by a solid, equilateral triangle because "the code is designed for resin-identification purposes and not recyclability".[6] The three-arrow symbol was based on the Universal Recycling Symbol.

List of Chinese codes for plastics products

The Standardization Administration of the People’s Republic of China (SAC) has defined material codes for different types of plastics in the document GB16288,2008.[7]

1PETpolyethylene terephthalate
2HDPEpolyethylene, high density
3PVCpoly(vinyl chloride)
4LDPEpolyethylene, low density
7ABAcrylonitrile-butadiene plastic
8ABAKAcrylonitrile-butadiene-acrylate plastic
9ABSAcrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene plastic
10ACSAcrylonitrile-chlorinated polyethylene-styrene
11AEPDSAcrylonitrile-(ethylene-propylene-diene)-styrene plastic
12AMMAAcrylonitrile-methyl-methacrylate plastic
13ASAAcrylonitrile-styrene-acrylate plastic
14CAcellulose acetate
15CABcellulose acetate butyrate
16CAPcellulose acetate propionate
17CEFcellulose formaldehyde
18CFcellulose-formaldehyde resin
19CMCcarboxymethyl cellulose
20CNcellulose nitrate
21COCcycloolefin copolymer
22CPcellulose propionate
23CTAcellulose triacetate
24E/PEthylene-propylene plastic
25EAAEthylene-acrylic acid plastic
26EBAKEthylene-butyl acrylate plastic
27ECethyl cellulose
28EEAKEthylene-ethyl acrylate plastic
29EMAEthylene-methacrylic acid plastic
30EPepoxide; epoxy resin or plastic
31ETFEEthylene-tetrafluoroethylene plastic
32EVAEthylene-vinyl acetate plastic
33EVOHEthylene-vinyl alcohol plastic
34FEPperfluoro (ethylene-propylene) plastic
35FFFuran-formaldehyde resin
36LCPLiquid-crystal polymer
37MABSmethyl methacrylate-acrylnitrile-butadiene-styrene plastic
38MBSmethyl methacrylate-butadiene-styrene plastic
39MCmethyl cellulose
40MFMelamine-formaldahyde resin
41MPMelamine-phenol resin
42MSANα-methylstyrene-acrylonitrile plastic
44PAApoly(acrylic acid)
50PARApoly(aryl amide)
52PBAKpoly(butyl acrylate)
53PBATpoly(butylene adipate/terephthalate)
55PBNpoly(butylene napthalate)
57PBTpoly(butylene terephthalate)
59PCCEpoly(cyclohexlyene dimethylene cyclo-hexanedicar-boxylate)
61PCTpoly(cyclonhexylene dimethylene terephthalate)
63PDAPpoly(diallyl phthalate)
65PECpolyester carbonate or poly(butylene succinate/carbonate)
67PE-Cpolyethylene, chlorinated
72LLDPEpolyethylene, linear low density
73MDPEpolyethylene, medium density
74PENpoly(ethylene naphthalate)
75PEOXpoly(ethylene oxide)
76PESpoly(ethylene succinate)
79UHMWPEpolyethylene, ultra high molecular weight
81VLDPEpolyethylene, very low density
82PFPhenol-formaldehyde resin
83PFAPerfluoro alkoxyl alkane resin
84PGApoly(glycolic acid)
85PHApolyhydroxyalanoic or polyhydroxyalkanoates
86PHBpolyhydroxybutyric acid or polyhydroxybutyrate
92PLApolylactic acid or poly lactide
94PMMApoly(methyl methacrylate)
98POMpoloxymethylene; polyacetal; polyormaldehyde
99PPCcarbon dioxide and propylene copolymer
101PPEpoly(phenylene ether)
102PP-Epolypropylene, expandable
103PP-HIpolypropylene, high impact
104PPOXpoly(propylene oxide)
105PPSpoly(phenylene sulfide)
106PPSUpoly(phenylene sulfone)
107EPSpolystyrene, expandable
108HIPSpolystyrene, high impact
110PTFEpoly tetrafluoroethylene
111PTMATpoly(tetramethylene adipate/terephthalate)
112PTTpoly(trimethylene terephthalene)
114PVApoly(vinyl acetate)
115PVOHpoly(vinyl alcohol)
116PVBpoly(vinyl butyral)
117PVC-Cpoly(vinyl chloride), chlorinated
118PVC-Upoly(vinyl chloride), unplasticized
119PVDCpoly(vinylidene chloride)
120PVDFpoly(vinylidene fluoride)
121PVFpoly(vinyl fluoride)
122PVFMpoly(vinyl formal)
125SANStyrene-acrylonitrile plastic
126SBStyrene-butadiene plastic
127SIsilicone plastic
128SMAHStyrene-maleic anyhydride plastic
129SMSStyrene-α-methylstyrene plastic
130UFUrea-formaldehyde resin
131UPunsaturated polyester resin
132VCEvinyl chloride-ethylene plastic
133VCEMAKvinyl chloride-ethylene-methyle-acrylate plastic
134VCEVACvinyl chloride-ethylene-vinyl acrylate plastic
135VCMAKvinyl chloride-methyl acrylate plastic
136VCMMAvinyl chloride-methyl methacrylate plastic
137VCOAKvinyl chloride-octyl acrylate plastic
138VCVACvinyl chloride-vinyl acetate plastic
139VCVDCVinylchloride-vynylidene chloride plastic
140VEvinyl ester resin

See also


  1. Standardization Administration of the People’s Republic of China (SAC) GB16288,2008. Marking of plastics products. Chinese Standard Publishing House, Beijing; 2008.
  2. Emily J. Hunt, Chenlong Zhang, Nick Anzalone, Joshua M. Pearce, Polymer recycling codes for distributed manufacturing with 3-D printers, Resources, Conservation and Recycling, 97, pp. 24-30 (2015). DOI:10.1016/j.resconrec.2015.02.004
  3. "EUR-Lex - 31997D0129 - EN - EUR-Lex". Retrieved 22 April 2018.
  4. Plastic Packaging Resins American Chemistry Council
  5. Official Journal of the EC; Commission Decision (97/129/EC) establishing the ID system for packaging materials pursuant to European Parliament & Council Directive 94/62/EC
  6. Jessica Holbrook. Say so long to recycling code arrows. June 2013.
  7. Standardization Administration of the People’s Republic of China (SAC) GB16288,2008. Marking of plastics products. Chinese Standard Publishing House, Beijing; 2008, as cited in E. J. Hunt, C. Zhang, N.Anzalone, and J. M. Pearce. Polymer Recycling Codes for Distributed Manufacturing with 3-D Printers, Resources, Conservation and Recycling 97, pp. 24–30 (2015). DOI: 10.1016/j.resconrec.2015.02.004
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