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Green Initiative

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Not all plastics are created equal

Have you ever noticed the little trianglular identification symbols located on the bottom of various plastic items such as bottles, containers… barricades?? Check it and see for yourself. In the meantime, let’s learn a little bit about these symbols.

The infamous seven groups of plastic polymers, each with specific properties, are used worldwide for packaging applications (see table below). Each group of plastic polymer can be identified by its Plastic Identification code (PIC) – usually a number or a letter abbreviation. For instance, Low-Density Polyethylene can be identified by the number 4 and/or the letters “LDPE”. The PIC appears inside a three-chasing arrow recycling symbol. The symbol is used to indicate whether the plastic can be recycled into new products.

The PIC was introduced by the Society of the Plastics Industry, Inc. which provides a uniform system for the identification of different polymer types and helps recycling companies to separate different plastics for reprocessing. Manufacturers of plastic products are required to use PIC labels in some countries/regions and can voluntarily mark their products with the PIC where there are no requirements. Consumers can identify the plastic types based on the codes usually found at the base or at the side of the plastic products, including food/chemical packaging and containers. The PIC is usually not present on packaging films, as it is not practical to collect and recycle most of this type of waste.


The Seven Classifications

Info provided by Wikipedia
Type of Plastic Polymer

Polyethylene terephthalate (PET, PETE)

Properties

Clarity, strength, toughness, barrier to gas and moisture.

Common Packaging Applications

Soft drink, water and salad dressing bottles; peanut butter and jam jars.


Type of Plastic Polymer

High-density polyethylene (HDPE)

Properties

Stiffness, strength, toughness, resistance to moisture, permeability to gas.

Common Packaging Applications

Water pipes, Hula-Hoop (children’s game) rings, Milk, juice and water bottles; the occasional shampoo / toiletry bottle.


Type of Plastic Polymer

Polyvinyl chloride (PVC)

Properties

Versatility, clarity, ease of blending, strength, toughness.

Common Packaging Applications

Juice bottles; cling films; PVC piping.


Type of Plastic Polymer

Low-density polyethylene (LDPE)

Properties

Ease of processing, strength, toughness, flexibility, ease of sealing, barrier to moisture.

Common Packaging Applications

Frozen food bags; squeezable bottles, e.g. honey, mustard; cling films; flexible container lids.


Type of Plastic Polymer

Polypropylene (PP)

Properties

Strength, toughness, resistance to heat, chemicals, grease and oil, versatile, barrier to moisture.

Common Packaging Applications

Reusable microwaveable ware; kitchenware; yogurt containers; margarine tubs; microwaveable disposable take-away containers; disposable cups; plates.


Type of Plastic Polymer

Polystyrene (PS)

Properties

Versatility, clarity, easily formed.

Common Packaging Applications

Egg cartons; packing peanuts; disposable cups, plates, trays and cutlery; disposable take-away containers.


Type of Plastic Polymer

Other (often polycarbonate or ABS)

Properties

Dependent on polymers or combination of polymers.

Common Packaging Applications

Beverage bottles; baby milk bottles; electronic casing.


Know Your Plastics

It is essential that you know where the plastic is coming from, who made it and how they made it. This goes to show that not all plastics are equal… this same philosophy applies to barricades and barriers. Even though one may be less money, look the same and even go as far as having the exact same mold, chances are that the classification and/or recyclable products utilized is quite different! We challenge you to to find a product which represents the safe, fulfilling, and high innovative technology we use, and then simply compare and contrast. We promise, what you find will be awesome.

Let our “green” thinking flow into your projects as well.