ASTM plans changes, additions to resin identification code, involves 18 different items affecting classifications such as PET, LLDPE, PLA

LOS ANGELES , October 27, 2009 () – ASTM International Inc. is proposing changes and additions to the plastics industry resin identification code that involved 18 different items to modify the definition of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and add classifications for polylactic acid (PLA), polycarbonate (PC) and linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE), Plastics News reported on Oct. 26.

Any changes, however, are likely to take 15 months to three years as changes are evolving and will require several more ballots, said industry sources close to the process. The current voting ended Oct. 23.

ASTM is trying to decide whether to adopt the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc. (SPI) code or to make adjustments to it, said Dave Cornell, technical director of the Association of Postconsumer Plastic Recyclers (APR). ASTM has been given the task of reviewing and updating the code developed by SPI in 1988.

Under the current proposal, high density polyethylene (HDPE), polyvinyl chloride (PVC), low density polyethylene (LDPE), polypropylene (PP) and polystyrene (PS) would remain Nos. 2-6, respectively. Four new recycling numbers, Nos. 8-11, would be added for PC, LLDPE, PLA and other polyesters that are not PET, respectively.

Cornell said it is likely that the addition of the other resins will be approved, but it is not known how much the code will be expanded or when. He said several discussions will be required to determine how a specific resin can be modified with additives, barriers and other materials and still be considered primarily that resin.

The definition of PET might be changed to specify that containers labeled with a No. 1 symbol do not include layers of coatings and additives above 0.5% concentration.

“Other” resins would continue to be identified under the No. 7 code, but manufacturers might have to provide a detailed composition of the materials used.

Steve Alexander, APR’s executive director, said at the APR fall conference in Myrtle Beach on Oct. 20-22, that it is important that any changes not have an adverse affect on plastics recycling. Consumers and municipalities use the resin identification code in recycling programs, although it was not developed for that purpose.

The primary source of this article is Plastics News, Akron, Ohio, on Oct. 26, 2009.

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