Resin identification (ID) codes are the symbols and logos on your plastic bottle or container that tell you the type of plastic it was manufactured from.
There are seven different types of plastic categories, each with their own resin ID code: PET(E) (PET and rPET) HDPE (and rHDPE), PVC (polyvinyl chloride), LDPE (low density polyethylene), PP (polypropylene), PS (polystyrene) and Other (everything else).
Knowing what the resin ID code on your container is and what it means is super helpful because it can help you work out if your product is recyclable – or not – and allows you to dispose of it correctly. It can also help you identify the recyclable potential of a packaging product and whether or not that product would be a good fit for your business and your sustainability agenda.
Continue reading as we decode each resin identification code and reveal what they might mean for you and your working operations.
Resin ID Code 1: Polyethylene Terephthalate PET (E), PET and Recycled Polyethylene Terephthalate (rPET)
If Resin ID Code Number 1 is displayed on the bottom of your container, it means it’s made from PET or rPET, a highly recyclable material that’s used to make most of the plastic drinks bottles we find on our shop shelves. It’s the easiest of all plastics to recycle for further use and nearly 94% of UK councils will collect PET plastic bottles either from your doorstep or from recycling centres.
PET plastic bottles have been redesigned so that they are 30% lighter than 15 years ago and increasing amounts of recycled plastic are used to manufacture the PET bottles themselves.
At Cambrian, we offer a vast range of PET plastic bottles, from Boston Round bottles and cylindrical bottles, to Elan spray bottles, trigger spray bottles and tubular bottles. They are available in a variety of capacities, colours and neck sizes and in many 30% PCR options, which means they’re exempt from Plastic Packaging Tax (PPT).
PET is a great plastic to use for your packaging because it’s versatile, strong, lightweight, shatterproof, compatible with most chemicals – and immensely recyclable! Get in touch with our experts today to discuss upgrading your packaging to PET and rPET.
Resin ID Code 2: High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) and Recycled High Density Polyethylene (rHDPE)
Resin ID code number 2 means your product is made from HDPE or rHDPE. Like PET, HDPE is a highly recyclable material that can easily be recycled to make more HDPE.
Mainly used to make shampoo bottles, milk bottles, jerry cans and chemical cleaners, HDPE is well known for its high strength-to-density ratio, excellent chemical resistance, versatility and sustainability credentials.
For these reasons, HDPE and rHDPE can be found in a huge number of the products that we stock and supply. Our Natural 750ml and 500ml Elan spray bottles, for example, contain 100% rHDPE, making them some of the most sustainable products on the market. Together with our 100% rHDPE cylindrical bottles and 5Ltr jerry can, these products make up most of our famous Ecycle™ range, which comprises 100% recycled content.
For HDPE and rHDPE products you can count on for truly eco-friendly packaging, give us a call today.
Resin ID Code 3: Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)
If your product displays Resin ID code number three, it means it’s made from Polyvinyl Chloride. In its rigid state, PVC is used to make pipes, windows and door frames, while in its flexible state it’s usually used as insulation for electric wiring.
However, while being extremely durable and versatile and boasting great resistance to many chemicals, PVC is notoriously difficult to recycle because of the presence of toxic compounds and additives (such as stabilizers, pigments and flame retardants) that are added during the manufacturing process. While these additives contribute to the performance of PVC in many applications, they can complicate the recycling process, thereby giving PVC one of the lowest recycling rates of all plastics.
Resin ID Code 4: Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE)
Resin ID code number 4 – LDPE – is used to make bin liners, carrier bags and six pack rings – some of the most polluting plastic products. LDPE is known for its versatility, flexibility and toughness, but like PVC, LDPE isn’t widely recycled.
LDPE is technically recyclable but just 5% of what is produced gets recycled. This is mainly because of contamination issues (from food residue, dirt and other substances), a lack of proper recycling infrastructure and downcycling, where the quality of the recycled material is much lower than that of the original material.
Resin ID Code 5: Polypropylene (PP)
Got Resin ID code number 5 on your container? Then it’s manufactured from polypropylene (PP), one of the strongest, most durable and chemically resistant thermoplastics out there!
Widely used for tubs and pails, caps and closures and microwavable meal trays, PP is non-toxic (so excellent for use in food packaging products) and has a high softening point, which means it’s often chosen to manufacture containers that need to withstand high temperatures, such as those used in the food production or automotive sectors.
Resin ID Code 6: Polystyrene (PS)
Rigid, transparent and lightweight, resin ID code 6 comprises polystyrene, which is used to make yoghurt pots, foam fast food boxes and plastic cutlery. One common secondary use for polystyrene is to shred it into tiny balls and use it for cavity wall insulation.
PS is famously difficult to recycle, for several reasons including contamination issues, its low density nature, limited demand for recycled PS products and lack of recycling infrastructure.
Resin ID Code 7: Everything Else / Other
Resin ID Code 7 encompasses all those plastics that cannot be categorised in Resin ID codes 1 to 6! It can include a variety of materials and may encompass blends or multilayered plastics that contain different types of resins. Examples of plastics with the resin ID code 7 include polylactide (used in 3D printing and certain types of food packaging) and polycarbonate (used in roofing, contact lenses and for CDs/DVDs).
How Cambrian Can Help: Our 5-Step Process
Now you know the seven different resin ID codes and what their labels mean, it should be easier to work out whether or not a plastic product would be recyclable or not and whether that packaging product would be a good fit for your business.
However, we understand that the path to upgrading to top-performing yet more sustainable packaging can be difficult to navigate. That’s why we devised our 5-step process, to help our customers make sense of things such as resin ID codes and the recyclable potential of their packaging options.
- FREE consultation – a chat about your packaging needs and options at a time convenient to you. You will be assigned a dedicated Account Manager who can answer any queries and make sure you get a packaging solution that’s tailor made for your business.
- Analyse current packaging – to see the level of recyclability it’s capable of, how it reflects your brand values and the chemical compatibility required.
- Specify more sustainable and cost effective packaging alternatives. For example, our Zero PPT product range – which contains over 30% recycled plastic content – and our Ecycle™ range – which contains 100% recycled material are both fully recyclable and totally exempt from Plastic Packaging Tax (PPT).
- Send out samples of these alternatives for you to test independently against your product. Get in touch today for your free samples!
- Deliver your new packaging directly to you in some of the shortest lead times out there.