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MEEF - Recycling Technologies  - previous page

Plastic and Tires Recycling Consultants

تدوير مخلفات المطاط والبلاستيك

Plastic identification; recycling code

When working with plastics there is often a need to identify which particular plastic material has been used for a given product. Most consumers recognize the types of plastics by the numerical coding system created by the Society of the Plastics Industry in the late 1980s. There are six different types of plastic resins that are commonly used to package household products. The identification codes listed below can be found on the bottom of most plastic packaging.

PETE Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) -   Soda & water containers, some waterproof packaging. Recycling PET is similar to the polyethylenes (PE). Bottles may be color sorted and are ground up and washed. Unlike polyethylene, PET sinks in the wash water while the plastic caps and labels are floated off. The clean flake is dried and often repelletized.

Recycled PET has many uses and well established market for this useful resin. By far, the largest usage is in textiles. Carpet companies can often use 100% recycled resin to manufacture polyesther carpets in a variety of colors and textures. PET is also spun like cotton candy to makr fiber filling for pillows, quilts and jackets. PET can also be rolled ito clear sheets or ribbon for VCR and audio cassettes. In addition a substantial quantity goes back into the bottle market.  

HDPE High-Density Polyethylene -  Milk, detergent & oil bottles, Toys and plastic bags. HDPE is called natural since that is it's natural color, and it is the most valuable because it can be made into any color when it is recycled. Other products are often packed in brightly colored bottles whiched are mixed together at recycling plants into mixed color or rainbow bales. Most of this material is later dyed black after it is processed.

Recycling HDPE is a pretty simple process. The bales are broken aprt and ground into small flakes. These flakes are then washed and floated to removed and heavy (Sinkable) contaminants. This cleaned flake is then dried in a stream of hot air and may be boxed and sold in that form. More sophisticated plastic plants may reheat these flakes, add pigment to change the color and run the material through a pelletizer. This equipment forms little beads of plastic that can then be reused in injection molding presses to create new products. Some end uses for recycled HDPE are plastic pipes,lumber, flower pots, trash cans, or formed back into non food application bottles.


V Vinyl/Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) - Food wrap, vegetable oil bottles, blister packages.


LDPE Low-Density Polyethylene - Many plastic bags. Shrink wrap, garment bags. It ic chemically similar to HDPE but it is less dense and more flexible. Most polyethylene film is made from LDPE which you often see as plastic bags and grocery sacks. This scrap may be clear or pigmented and it is hand sorted and baled at recycling processing plants.

Recycling LDPE is verry similar to HDPE except special grinders are used to handle the thin films. The films are often washed and repelletized or used directly to make new products. Some end uses for recycled LDPE are plastic trash bags and grocery sacks, plastic tubing, agricultural film, and plastic lumber.


PP Polypropylene - Refrigerated containers, some bags, most bottle tops, some carpets, some food wrap.


PS Polystyrene - Throwaway utensils, meat packing, protective packing.


OTHER Usually layered or mixed plastic.  No recycling potential - must be land filled.

These symbols are meant to indicate the type of plastic,  not its recyclability. Types 1 and 2 are commonly recycled. Type 4 is less commonly recycled. The other types are generally not recycled, except perhaps in small test programs. Common plastics polycarbonate (PC) and acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS) do not have recycling numbers. Chemical engineers will say that there are many more types and uses for polymers. But most debate in recycling focuses on these seven categories.





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