Recycling by the Numbers

July 23, 2008


On most plastic jars, containers and other packaging of products you buy, you’ll find what’s generally accepted as the recycling logo with a number in the middle and letters underneath stamped into the plastic.

The recycling logo can be a little misleading – just about anything can be recycled, but sometimes not without major effort. It’s a little bit like extracting oil from under the ocean bed compared to extracting oil from tar sands; none of it’s really good as such, but some plastics are far, far worse than others.

The Society of the Plastics Industry (SPI) implemented the system in 1988 to allow recyclers to be able to tell the different types of plastics when sorting. Basically, the numbers in the triangle indicate the grade of plastic – the resin ID code. It’s now a system that’s used in many different countries.

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