Office/Recraft Bazaar: 270 Brevard Avenue - Cocoa, Florida - 32922     321-220-3379  

Office/Recraft Bazaar regular hours:  Sat 11am-5pm (always check our CALENDAR before planning a visit)

Social Media Links

Main Menu - Javascript

Counter Functions

Enter text to search the website

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Plastic from 1 through 7

That is what our recycling cart says, but what does that really mean?

Well, recycling plastics is not an easy task. What is accepted depends on the area you live because the company who services your area -- and their ability to sell their recyclables --  in the end is what determines what they can or not collect from you.

Well-intended citizens want to do the right thing and put everything in the recycle bin. That generates a great deal of contamination and a lot of work for workers at the Material Recovery Facility (MRF), the facility where material collected is separated and similar items grouped/bailed together. Some degree of contamination is always expected, but excessive contamination jeopardizes the process and the material collected has to be sent to the landfills. In the end, all that effort "to do the right thing" ends up being in vain.

Some people try to reason and look for the "recycle symbol" -- the chasing arrow triangle with a number in the middle -- to decide whether or not to place items in the recycle bin. They rely on that symbol and number but they, too, miss the mark. The symbol and number do not guarantee that an item can be recycled. They are what is called Resin Identification Codes (RICs) and originally "were solely intended to help waste sorters identify the plastics used in bottles [...] -- the most readily collected, sorted and remarketed plastic scrap available at the time." The first six numbers represent the six mostly used plastics (a.k.a. resins) in the production of plastic bottles, with the seventh number representing a "catchall for everything else."

That was in 1988 and the plastic industry was able to announce that they "address[ed] the concerns of environmentalists, industrialists and state governments seeking a way to tame and organize the matter of plastics recovery."

A year later, other plastic manufacturers of "so-called 'rigid plastics' (e.g. buckets, baskets, wide-mouthed jars), were invited to participate in this marking system as well." Soon, the marking was on various types of plastic and the system was proven to be inappropriate to represent the recyclability of products.

Why? Different chemicals are used in the recipe of each product depending on their use. Even though products like bottles, trash can, and laundry baskets contain plastic #2 as their main component and are marked with the chasing arrows with #2 in them, "their chemical recipes are as different as their forms because each was manufactured for a different purpose, in a different manner, by a different machine.  The recipe that works for a machine that air-inflates bottles all day is not the same as that which is required for a machine injecting plastics into molded cups." If those plastics are melted together, what we end up with is an unusable plastic soup that manufacturers can't put through their machines.

And where does that leave us?

The RIC system was not meant to be used by consumers; it was not meant to be a guide for you to decide whether or not your plastic can go in the recycle bin. Knowing that you cannot rely on the RIC in the middle of chasing arrows to determine whether or not an item is recyclable will lead you to other actions:

1. Look at the shape of the container
2. Look for clear indication (e.g a list from your recycling service provider) of what is acceptable
3. Contact your local Solid Waste Department offices to know exactly what can/cannot go in the recycle bin
4. Look for alternative programs, like Terracycle, to recycle more of your packaging
5. Demand changes and the adoption of clear labels from manufacturers

And that's where How2Recycle, a project created in 2008 by the Sustainable Packaging Coalition, comes into play.

The How2Recycle Label program finished its soft launch in early 2012 and has now over 45 participating companies and brands.

Their goals match what consumers need to become better recyclers and what recycling service providers need to make their process more efficient:

  • Reduce confusion by creating a clear, well-understood, and nationally harmonized label ( that enables industry to convey to consumers how to recycle a package.
  • Improve the reliability, completeness, and transparency of recyclability claims.
  • Increase the availability and quality of recycled material.
How2Recycle began in 2008, and is a project of the Sustainable Packaging Coalition. The How2Recycle Label program finished its soft launch in early 2012 and now has over 45 participating companies and brands.  - See more at:

So don't decide what can go in the bin by merely looking at a meaningless RIC on the bottom of a container. Go further and try the five steps listed above. Think of RIC as a thing from the past. It's time to give way to a better labeling system and start recycling better.

Read on...
Symbols on containers

Alternative labeling

Recycling Plastic Is Surprisingly Complex. Here’s What Happens After the Bin.

Contact Us


Email *

Message *