Every plastic material packaging, be it food, beauty products, vitamins, water bottles, or plastic cups, always includes information about the manufacturing process. The information is written in a triangular arrow symbol with a number and description below it.
Do you know the meaning of each symbol on the packaging you use?
Seven triangular symbols or codes on plastic packaging were published by The Society of Plastic Industry in 1988. Launching from Plastic Today, the code is called the Resin Identification Code approved by the International Organization for Standardization. This means that every plastic packaging must include one of these codes. Below is an explanation of each symbol, the numbers and letters underneath:
Code number 1 and PETE or PET
The number 1 in this symbol signifies the recycling and manufacturing process. It is made from polyethylene terephthalate and is usually found on bottled water, ketchup, vitamins, hand sanitisers and lotions. This packaging is single-use only and is not recommended for repeated use.
Code number 2 and HDPE or PE-HD
This symbol will appear on packaging that uses high density polyethylene. Generally, it is found on gallons of drinking water, milk bottles, detergent bottles, shampoo bottles, soap. The meaning of the recycling symbol with the number 2 code and printed HDPE or PE-HD can be used repeatedly and the recycling process is simpler.
Code number 3 and V or PVC
Derived from materials containing polyvinyl chloride used in water pipes, electrical cables, children’s toys, and wraps. This plastic material is classified as dangerous because it contains chemicals that can dissolve and pose a health risk. It is also difficult to recycle so it is important to minimise its use.
Code number 4 and LDPE or PE-LD
This is the most common because it is found on plastic bags, shopping bags, and food wrappers. Code number 4 with LDPE or PE-LD means it is made of low density polyethylene.
It is elastic, durable and can be used multiple times. This means it needs to be collected if it is only used once. Avoid littering as it can pollute the environment.
Code number 5 and PP
Food containers, water bottles, straws, and tape are made from polypropylene and will have the number 5 and PP codes. This symbol means that they are safe enough to be used multiple times, even at hot temperatures that require high heat to recycle.
Number code 6 and PS
Hard, colourless plastics use the number 6 and PS symbol which means they are made of polystyrene. Typically, foam, plastic spoons and plastic forks are coded with this symbol.
Code number 7 and PLA or O
Finally, this symbol means it is made from a combination of various materials. Among others, acrylic, nylon, polycarbonate and polylactic acid. Code numbers 7 and PLA or O are found on baby drinking bottles, water coolers, compact discs, and mobile phone cases.
From the meanings of the seven kinds of symbols or codes on plastic packaging above, it remains to be seen whether these symbols or codes are used.TA