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Recycling Code - What do the shortcuts mean?

 

THE BENEFIT OF RECYCLING CODES

Recycling codes can be found on many packages today. Their purpose is primarily to inform retailers and consumers about the packaging material used and its proper use and recycling.

First and foremost, the shortcuts tell consumers how to dispose of a material in order to correctly return it to the recycling loop so that it can actually be recycled. 

In addition, the shortcuts also provide useful guidance for making sustainable purchasing decisions. The codes can also be used to check very easily whether packaging can be heated, for example, without releasing substances that are harmful to health.

For sorting facilities, the labels are only important insofar as they support waste separation by consumers. This is because sorting and reuse in the recycling plants themselves is now carried out using modern technologies, such as those based on infrared.
 
 

THE STRUCTURE OF RECYCLING CODES

Recycling codes are made up of at least two, but no more than three, components. The two most important elements are:
 
  • The recycling symbol

This consists of three (usually black or green) arrows arranged in the shape of a triangle. It reflects the recycling cycle and is intended to help consumers catch sight of the recycling number as quickly as possible.
 
  • The recycling number

It is located in the center of the arrow triangle, refers to the respective packaging material and is therefore the decisive, informative labeling element.

Under the symbol there is often also a supplementary
 
  •  Material code

This consists of two to four letters, which helps to make the codes easier to read by identifying the specific material group of the packaging material.
 
  

LEGAL BASIS

There is no legal obligation to specify recycling codes. This means that the labeling is done on a voluntary basis.

However, the German Packaging Law (VerpackG § 6, Annex 5) does regulate which materials must be identified with which recycling numbers and codes.

 

RECYCLING CODES FOR PAPER & CARDBOARD

Number Shortcut Substance
20 PAP Corrugated cardboard
21 PAP Other Cardboard
22 PAP Paper


RECYCLING CODES FOR PLASTICS

Number Shortcut Substance
1 PET Polyethylene terephthalate
2 HDPE High density polyethylene
3 PVC Polyvinyl chloride
4 LDPE Low density polyethylene
5 PP Polypropylene
6 PS Polystyrene
7 O Other plastics


RECYCLING CODES FOR WOOD MATERIAL

Number Shortcut Substance
50 FOR Wood
51 FOR Cork
 

RECYCLING CODES FOR METALS

Number Shortcut Substance
40 FE Steel
41 ALU Aluminum

 

RECYCLING CODES FOR TEXTILES

Number Shortcut Substance
60 TEX Cotton
61 TEX Jute

 

RECYCLING CODES FOR COMPOSITES

Number Shortcut Substance
80 „C“ + Shortcut of the main ingredient Paper and cardboard / various metals
81 „C“ + Shortcut of the main ingredient Paper and cardboard / Plastic
82 „C“ + Shortcut of the main ingredient Paper and cardboard / Aluminum
83 „C“ + Shortcut of the main ingredient Paper and cardboard / tinplate
84 „C“ + Shortcut of the main ingredient Paper and cardboard / Plastic / Aluminum
85 „C“ + Shortcut of the main ingredient Paper and cardboard / Plastic / Aluminum / Tinplate
90 „C“ + Shortcut of the main ingredient Plastic / Aluminum
91 „C“ + Shortcut of the main ingredient Plastic / Tinplate
92 „C“ + Shortcut of the main ingredient Plastic / various metals
95 „C“ + Shortcut of the main ingredient Glass / Plastic
96 „C“ + Shortcut of the main ingredient Glass / Aluminum
97 „C“ + Shortcut of the main ingredient Glass / Tinplate
98 „C“ + Shortcut of the main ingredient Glass / various metals


RECYCLING CODES FOR GLASS

Number Shortcut Substance
70 GL Colorless glass
71 GL Green glass
72 GL Brown glass
 

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