The Resin Indentification Code
How can you tell what kinds of plastic to put into your recycling bin?
There's no simple answer. The equipment at processing facilities varies, so the only sure way is to check with your municipality to see which plastic items it accepts.
There are, however, general guidelines. Turn the product over and look for the recycling symbol, a triangle with a number from 1 to 7 inside. That number is the "resin identification code," or RIC. Each number represents a different type of plastic, and some numbers are easier to recycle than others.
Some municipalities accept all types of
plastic. Others accept only containers with
certain code numbers stamped on them.
Others may accept certain code numbers generally, but not specific items. For example, a municipality may accept many items coded 1. But food take-out containers, microwaveable trays, and plastic cups may carry that code and still not be acceptable.
Still other municipalities accept only products with
specific resin codes that are bottles
(having a neck that's narrower than the
Note that the same type of product may
be packaged in different types of plastic.
Shampoo, for example, is commonly
packaged in bottles made of Code 2 and
Code 3 plastic, depending on the brand.
If you have questions about whether a plastic item is recyclable, call your municipality or local recycling center.
To learn more about plastic codes, mouse over the symbols below.