Recycling Resin Codes and Shipping Boxes

The recycling codes are used to easily and clearly identify materials and separate them accordingly. The resin codes from 1 to 7 are by far the most common and popular. These are various plastics and thermoforms such as polyethylene, polypropylene terephthalate (the all known PET), polyvinyl chloride (PVC), polystyrene etc. Category 7 is often referred to as just “other” and suggests mixed plastics, groups different from one through six and sometimes even bio-plastics or other styles of bio-degradable bottles etc. These latter should typically be thrown in the comingled waste and be kept away from the recyclables since they might contaminate the stream and cause more damage than good. A potential problem might be the fact that regular or green plastic packaging all look the same. When the amount of bio-degradables raises too much in a mixture of recyclables, it could seriously render the whole stream useless or deteriorate quality or recycled materials considerably. It would be nice if the industry could agree on some clear and distinctive features to make the bio-plastics stand out and not get mixed in.

Categories 20 through 23 are a lot more relevant to large shipping boxes due to their paper origins. 20 is normally C PAP for cardboard followed by other paper, regular paper and paperboard. In addition, codes 60 to 69 are all textiles with 60 being cotton and 61 for jute. These last two are important since when cardboard is made, wood chips are only one of the raw materials which goes into the paper pulp. Certain crops and namely cotton and jute, are also used by paper mills to make paperboard and in one way or another, find their way into cardboard shipping boxes.

Having in mind that cardboard is only a popular name for the building material of shipping boxes, one could reasonably ask why category 20 is titled C PAP – maybe cardboard paper or carton paper? It may have been a bit more truthful to call it corrugated fiberboard as it is the proper name of the paperboard sandwich which lives in the walls of large and small cardboard boxes. The wavy inside flutes are what makes a shipping box strong and are super important as the size of the box goes up combined with heavy load weight. These corrugated flutes flex and bend and are what absorbs all road pressure when a package is in motion.

Recycling code for Aluminum
Recycling code for Aluminum