You're probably familiar with the chasing arrows symbolic of recycling.
In fact, you may think they're chasing you! They seem to appear out
of nowhere to remind you that you didn't sort your garbage. (And
who designed that thing anyway? Doesn't it look like some sort of
impossible figure that M.C. Escher would've dreamed up?)
Okay, there's no need to be paranoid -- they're not after you.
Actually, when it comes to the containers they're printed on, they're supposed
to be as inconspicuous as possible.
The symbol code we're familiar with was designed by The
Society of the Plastics Industry (SPI)
in 1988 to allow recyclers to differentiate different types of plastics and
to provide a uniform convention that manufacturers could implement nationwide.
Since recyclers target post-consumer plastics, the SPI code is most commonly found
on household packaging materials.
The Rules of Use
SPI and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) have established guidelines
for use of the code:
I'm not a lawyer nor did I ever claim to be. So if you're a manufacturer
please consult SPI for a complete description of guidelines.
used on bottles and rigid containers in compliance with laws in 39 states.
identifies resin (type of plastic) content only.
must be as inconspicuous as possible so the consumer's purchasing decision
is not influenced.
must not be modified in any way.
no claims of recyclability or the word 'recyclable' near the code symbol.
molded or imprinted on all 8 ounce to 5 gallon containers that can accept
the 1/2" minimum size symbol.
must appear on the container bottom as close to the center as possible.
Now for the reason you came to this page! Below you'll find
the SPI symbol and the polymer that it represents along with a quickie
description of uses for that polymer. To learn everything you ever
wanted to know about the polymers in question, just click on the name.
Containers for: laundry/dish detergent, fabric softeners, bleach, milk, shampoo,
conditioner, motor oil. Newer bullet proof vests, various toys.
||Poly(vinyl cloride): Pipes, shower curtains,
meat wraps, cooking oil bottles, baby bottle nipples, shrink wrap, clear medical tubing,
vinyl dashboards and seat covers, coffee containers.
Tupperware®, syrup bottles, yogurt tubs, diapers, outdoor carpet.
||Polystyrene: Coffee cups,
disposable cutlery and cups (clear and colored), bakery shells, meat trays, "cheap" hubcaps, packing peanuts,
||The hotdog of plastics! Products labeled as "other" are made of any combination of 1-6 or
another, less commonly used plastic.
Department of Polymer Science
of Southern Mississippi