What are resin codes and why do they matter? I sort of accidentally lied when I said that I was finished my series on plastics, because of course there’s lots more to say about plastics, and I’ll do my best to touch on some of it.
Today I want to talk about resin codes—the triangular arrows with a number in the middle. You’ll recognize them from, well, everywhere! These codes came about in 1988, by the plastics industry. They’re now on all sorts of plastic packaging, but unfortunately, there’s a lot of misinformation about them. Here’s the lowdown.
What resin codes tell us: what sort of plastic the object is made out of.
What resin codes don’t tell us: if the plastic can be recycled. Contrary to popular belief, these do not tell us if the object is recyclable! For that, you’ll have to double check with your municipality’s system.
What’s even more confusing is that some plastics that ARE recyclable don’t have resin codes on them. Resin codes are voluntary, not mandatory, for packaging producers.
As always, the situation is complicated and I can’t make any blanket statements, as every scenario and location is different.
My top tip: reduce plastic packaging when possible, and look into your city’s recycling rules so you’re better equipped to dispose of the plastic that you do obtain.