Breaking Down Plastics

First implemented in 1988, the Resin Identification Code (RIC), was created by the Plastic Industry Associationto help implement a code to help identify what kind of plastics are being used in products. 

The RIC system can be identified as a labeled digit between 1 and 7 enclosed in a triangle symbol. Each number signifies a different kind of plastic, some of which are rated to be less toxic and easier to recycle. 

 It is very common and easy to accidentally misplace an item that is meant to be trash in to a recycling bin and vice versa. However, with large countries such as China beginning to enforce a stricter recycling program, such as allowing only 0.5 percent of impurity levels in their recycling batches, it may end up leading to more waste in our world. By understanding the numerous kinds of plastics and their recycle properties, it has the benefit of potentially saving these recycle batches that are at risk of being sent to landfills. To learn more about the safe and harmful plastics check out our RIC code breakdown below. 

Plastic #1- Polyethylene Terephthalate, or also known as PETE or PET. Is one of the safer plastics when used in a cool or room temperature area. Warm weather can cause carcinogens, or cancerous radiation to melt into your liquids. Large amounts of disposable containers and bottles are made of #1. These plastics are also safe to recycle in your neighborhood recycling program. 

Plastic #2- High Density Polyethylene (HDPE), is one of the safest choices in plastic. It has a low hazard plastic and is often used in the production of milk, juice, water, and shampoo bottles. It is also used to make plastic bags. 

Plastic #3- Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC), is used to make food wrap, inflatable mattresses, and shower curtains. These plastics are not safe to be heated or cooked in and are not accepted by recycling programs.

Plastic #4- Low-Density Polyethylene (LDPE), although it is not able to be recycled, this plastic is one of the safer options because it does not contain BPA. LDPE plastics are usually used to make garbage bags, produce bags, and newspaper delivery bags. 

 Plastic #5- Polypropylene (PP), is used to make containers for take out meals, kitchenware, and “microwave-safe” plastics. This plastic is well known for its heat resistant property. PP is considered one of the safer recyclable plastics, but can be hazardous if too much heat is applied to it. 

 Plastic #6- Polystyrene or Styrofoam, is one of the most common forms of disposable containers and is one of the hardest plastics to decompose. It is not recyclable and releases toxic chemicals when heated. 

Plastic #7- Other or “Everything Else,” this category does not identify one particular plastic resin. It is a general catch-all for all plastics other than those identified by numbers 1-6, and can include plastics that may be layered or a mixture of various plastics. It includes the new bioplastics. Plastic #7 is typically used for baby bottles, water bottles, DVDs, compact disks, and electronics. Due to its fusion of different plastics, this category is more prone to having potential BPAs and other toxins.