ASTM Plastics Committee Revises Resin Identification Code (RIC) Standard

The ASTM International Subcommittee D20.95 on Recycled Plastics, part of Committee D20 on Plastics, has approved major enhancements to D7611, Standard Practice for Coding Plastic Manufactured Articles for Resin Identification. ASTM D7611, first issued in 2010, covers the long-standing Resin Identification Code (RIC) system for identifying the various types of plastic resin used in manufactured articles.

The Resin Identification Code was developed by the Society of the Plastics Industry (SPI) in 1988 to meet the needs of recyclers and manufacturers for a consistent, uniform coding system that can be applied worldwide. SPI began work with ASTM International in 2008 to involve technical and industry stakeholders in updating and maintaining the RIC system to better address changing societal needs and advancements in plastics materials. Originally intended to assist waste recovery facilities in the quality sorting of plastics products prior to recycling, the RIC system has become a vital tool used by municipalities, scrap brokers, recyclers, manufacturers, consumers and others for managing the end-of-life of plastics materials.

Among the major revisions to ASTM D7611 is a change to the graphic marking symbol used to identify resin type. The RIC system has used a “chasing arrows” symbol surrounding a numeral from 1 to 7 that defines the resin used in the product’s packaging. Under D7611, this marking symbol is now specified as a solid equilateral triangle around the number.

The RIC system was originally developed and continues to be solely dedicated to identifying resin content, rather than product recyclability. By replacing the chasing arrows graphic — commonly associated with recycling — with an equilateral triangle, ASTM D7611 helps bring focus back to the system’s core mission: resin identification and quality control prior to recycling.

ASTM D7611 provides codes for the six most commonly found resin types, with a seventh category created for all other types. These categories include: 1) polyethylene terephthalate (PETE); 2) high density polyethylene (HDPE); polyvinyl chloride (V); 4) low density polyethylene (LDPE); 5) polypropylene (PP); 6) polystyrene (PS); and 7) other, including materials made with more than one resin from categories 1-6.

As part of its ongoing efforts, the D20.95.01 task group is assessing how to: differentiate between different melt flows within each resin; identify certain additives that might significantly change the properties of a resin; and better label individual resins (PLA, PC, ABS, Nylon and others) that are currently designated as “other” in the current RIC system. The task group is also discussing whether a new code is needed for linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE) to enable products made from this technology to be accurately identified and distinguished from products marked as HDPE or LDPE.

ASTM D7611 and its related adjunct are available for purchase online at www.astm.org or by contacting ASTM Customer Relations (phone: 877-909-ASTM; sales@astm.org). The D7611 adjunct contains graphic representations of the Resin Identification Codes (RIC) as a molded, imprinted or raised symbol or wording and is available for download in PDF format.

 

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