Special Interest

Plastic Identification Codes - What Are They?

by Eddy Tuesday August 10th 2021

Plastic Identification Codes - What Are They?-shutterstock_1537118990_1_-_2nd_version

Photo Credit: Shutterstock/shopplaywood

Plastic waste is choking our planet - plastic will outlive us, our children, and their children. Australia is one of the top producers of waste globally, and we need to cut our usage of plastics and recycle any plastics that end up in our shopping baskets.

From your Jeans, toothpicks to phones, cars parts - everyday items we have unnecessarily replaced other materials for cheap plastic. It's easy to overlook this when we don't see the adverse effects of our pollution daily, but plastic is a huge problem.

Australia generates around 50 million tonnes of rubbish every year. If we continue at the same rate, this amount is expected to double by 2040. And by 2050, there could be more plastics in our ocean than fish.

Recycle Codes

Every plastic product has a number on it, with the first two digits represent the type of plastic used to make that product. The last two digits represent the year in which it was manufactured.

The Plastic Identification Codes Australia is used to identify the different plastics in a recycling system. The codes are usually found on the bottom of plastic products and consist of three parts - one letter, a digit, and another letter.

The most important thing is to make sure you know what plastics you have and then look up the code. If you can't find it on the bottom of your product, don't worry! There is a website that will tell you your Plastic Identification Code Australia when typed in.

Plastic Identification Codes Australia is not just for the retailer; it also provides information to the consumer. The codes provide manufacturers with a way to identify their products. Consumers can also identify a product by looking at the code if they are unsure where it originated. This code is often found on clothing, food containers, toys and other products in contact with food or liquids.

The Plastic Identification Code is made up of twelve digits in three groups of four each.

Each group corresponds to a type of item:

- Type 1: Packaging

- Type 2: Medicines and foods

- Type 3: Non-packaged goods

These Codes are found on recyclable plastics only to advise the different types of plastic resin used in each product.

Not all recycle codes can be recycled!

Most hard plastics with a number 1 through 7 can be disposed of in your recycling bin, but plastic bags with a number 2, 4 and 6 cannot. These plastics need to be recycled by a rubbish removal service to take them to a waste management facility.

What Are The Plastic Identification Codes?

The APCO (Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation) launched the Plastics Identification Code on our Australasian Recycling Labels in 2018 to help you recycle with easier identification. Plastics can be reused in a variety of applications as per below:


Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) bottles for water, soft drink, and fruit juice, as well as fruit punnets and meat trays.


High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE) bottles for milk, bleach, and laundry detergent.


Unplasticised Polyvinyl Chloride (UPVC) bottles for cordial, liquid soap, and some fruit juice.


Low-Density Polyethylene (LDPE) & Linear Low-Density Polyethylene (LLDPE) plastic bags, garbage bags, chip packets, plastic wrap, squeeze bottles, and black irrigation tube.

5 PP

Polypropylene (PP) bottles, bottle caps, and rigid packaging containers are used for margarine, ice cream, and yoghurt.

6 PS

Polystyrene (PS) coffee cup lids, plastic cups, coat hangers, clamshells, medical disposables, and some yoghurt or dairy containers.

Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) foam packaging, packing peanuts, and Styrofoam boxes.


Includes resins and other materials of unknown composition such as nylon, acrylic, polycarbonates (PC), polyurethane (PU), and phenolics used in furniture, electrical, automotive, aircraft, marine, and medical parts.

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