ASTM International Inc. has developed some possible changes to the plastics industry resin identification code.
The standards-setting body recently asked its members to vote on 18 different items, including modifying the definition of PET and adding classifications for polylactic acid, polycarbonate and linear low density polyethylene.
The changes are still evolving, and several more ballots will be necessary before a final plan is in shape. Any change is likely 15 months to three years away, according to industry people close to the process.
The most important issue for recyclers is that any changes don't negatively impact plastics recycling, said Steve Alexander, executive director of the Association of Postconsumer Plastic Recyclers.
We want more bottles. We don't want the code to get in the way of recyclers, Alexander said at APR's fall conference, held Oct 20-22 in Myrtle Beach.
The resin identification code was not developed as a recycling code, but consumers and municipalities use it to identify plastic products for recycling.
Under the current proposal, high density PE, PVC, LDPE, polypropylene and polystyrene would retain their designations of Nos. 2-6, respectively, said Dave Cornell, technical director of Washington-based APR.
ASTM has asked its members whether they think the definition of PET should specify that containers labeled with a No. 1 symbol do not contain layers of coatings and additives above an 0.5 percent concentration.
The proposal also calls for adding four new recycling numbers: Nos. 8-11 would be added for polycarbonate, linear LDPE, PLA, and other polyesters that are not PET, respectively.
The No. 7 code would remain for other resins. But a suggestion is under consideration that the manufacturer provide, along with the No. 7, a detailed composition of the materials that are used.
The current voting which ended Oct. 23 is just one step in the procedure, said Cornell. ASTM still is trying to decide whether to adopt the [Society of the Plastics Industry Inc.] code or to make changes and updates.
The expansion to include other resins is probably going to happen, Cornell said. The question is how far the code is going to be expanded and when.
The issue of how a specific resin can be modified with additives, barriers and other materials and still be considered primarily that resin is likely to have several further discussions, he said. This review is still a work in progress, Cornell said.
The code was developed in 1988 by SPI, but the task of possibly changing elements of the code has since been turned over to West Conshohocken, Pa.-based ASTM. ASTM's D20.95 subcommittee on recycled plastics is spearheading the effort.
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