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What are plastic recycling codes?

It is important to be able to easily and efficiently identify plastics and sort them by resin type. This is because even one piece of incorrectly sorted plastic can ruin an entire recycled batch! For this reason the Society of the Plastics Industry (SPI) developed a coding system for plastics.

Plastics that can be recycled for business purposes include:

SPI resin identification coding system

All of the plastics listed previously can be identified by this simple universal system which is called the resin identification coding system. They are each assigned a number which is displayed within the universal recycling symbol shown above. The symbols can very slightly but each number is unique to a specific type of plastic. An interesting fact is that if the prefix R- is used (for example RPETE on a plastic bottle) then the resin has been previously recycled!

Each of these symbols is also represented by a Unicode code point. Code point U+267A is the code for the universal recycling symbol above.


Polymer Name Resin identification code Unicode
PET – Polyethylene Terephthalate U+2673
HDPE – High Density Polyethylene U+2674
PVC – Polyvinyl Chloride U+2675
LDPE – Low Density Polyethylene U+2676
PP – Polypropylene U+2677
PS – Polystyrene U+2678
Other Plastics (Including Nylon) U+2679

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