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Why Are Some Resin Codes in a Solid Triangle and Others in Chasing Arrows?

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Why Are Some Resin Codes in a Solid Triangle and Others in Chasing Arrows?


I believe ASTM took over administration of the Resin Identification Codes and issued a standard (ASTM D7611) that changed the recycling arrow triangle to a solid triangle. I have only seen the solid triangle show up on a few newer products. Do you know if the solid triangle would meet the requirements of all U.S. states versus the recycling arrows triangle?


By way of background, Resin Identification Codes (RIC) were originally developed by The Society of the Plastics Industry (SPI), now known as The Plastics Industry Association (PLASTICS), in 1988 to identify the plastic resin used in manufactured articles to assist in resin identification issues related to the potential for use in recycle. The codes originally consisted of a number inside a triangle formed by “chasing arrows.” The numbers signified the type of plastic used in the product. 

ASTM took over administration of the RIC in 2008 and, in 2010, issued ASTM D7611/D7611M - 18, “Standard Practice for Coding Plastic Manufactured Articles for Resin Identification.” D7611 was revised in 2013. One of the revisions was to change the “chasing arrows” symbol to a solid equilateral triangle around the numbers.

 There are no U.S. federal laws governing the use of resin identification codes or relating specifically to ASTM D7611; however, at least 36 states have enacted legislation on the use of these codes. Generally speaking, products imported into a state with resin identification regulations need to comply with the regulations of the state of import absent exigent circumstances. Many of these laws were enacted prior to the adoption of the new ASTM standard.  However, a more recent state law enacted in California AB-1583, which was signed into law in November 2019, specifies that the resin code labels on rigid plastic bottles and rigid plastic containers do not have to include the “chasing arrows” recycling symbol. But, also see our news story on a new California provision on recycling, SB-343, which has broad application to use of these types of symbols. 

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