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ASTM International

ASTM International Working to Adapt SPI Resin Identification Codes as New Standard

A proposed new ASTM International standard will facilitate more efficient recycling of a variety of post-consumer plastics. The proposed standard, WK20632, Practice for Marking Plastic Products for Identification in Reuse and Recycling, is under the jurisdiction of Subcommittee D20.95 on Recycled Plastics, part of ASTM International Committee D20 on Plastics.

ASTM WK20632 is based on an original system developed in 1988 by the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc. (SPI), which offered a means of identifying the resin content of bottles and rigid containers. Since its development, 39 states have adopted legislation on use of resin identification codes that is consistent with the SPI code. In addition, the code is in use in China and the United Kingdom, as well as being recommended by the British Plastics Federation and PlasticsEurope(formerly the Association of Plastics Manufacturers in Europe).

"SPI is pleased to be working with ASTM International, as well as industry and government experts, on this important endeavor and looks forward to developing an updated resin coding system so that everyone can more easily identify, reuse and recycle all types of plastics," said SPI President William R. Carteaux. "Being environmentally responsible is something that we all need to do, and the plastics industry is continuously striving to do its part."

While originally intended to aid in recycling of post-consumer plastic bottles and rigid containers, use of the SPI code has expanded to potentially include packaging films and finished products that are reusable and/or recyclable. The purposes of the original SPI code were to:

  • Provide a consistent national system to facilitate recycling of post-consumer plastics;

  • Target plastic containers;

  • Offer a means of identifying the resin content of bottles and containers commonly found in the residential waste stream; and

  • Provide coding for the six most commonly found resin types, with a seventh category created for all other types not found within codes 1-6.

ASTM WK20632 will expand on the original SPI system by providing for additional codes for resin types not covered in codes 1-6, potentially adding to the list of materials currently available for recycling. In addition to expanding the range of material covered, the proposed ASTM standard will allow for containers to be coded with numbers as they stand in the original SPI code and/or the "zero plus number" (for example, 01) system that is used in similar coding systems in the United Kingdom and China. Subcommittee D20.95 welcomes all interested parties from the plastic container and resin industries, as well as from the recycling community, to participate in the ongoing development of WK20632.

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