As I’ve mentioned before, Dartmouth College recycles plastics marked #1-7. Coca-Cola of Northern New England (CCNE) is the recycler of Dartmouth’s plastic and aluminum, and they can’t recycle plastics unless they are marked with a number. Although most plastics can be recycled, there’s a significant class of not numbered plastic bags, lids, tubs, and other items that CCNE cannot identify, and so must go into the trash.
The plastic resin identification codes and icons were set up by the Society of the Plastics Industry in the 1980s. As far as I can tell these codes and icons, like the universal recycling symbol itself, are in the public domain. There’s no organization that polices use of these logos. So any given plastic manufacturing company could easily, and without royalty or compliance fees, change their manufacturing process to stamp, mold, paint, or otherwise include the appropriate resin id code on their plastic products. Sure, a bottle marked #1 could turn out to be half Polyethylene (#1) and half Polystyrene (#6), but in such a case a company could probably be sued for false labeling.
Because there are still un-numbered plastic products out there, I have devised a plan: Whenever I come across a plastic container or container component that isn’t numbered, I’ve been putting them aside in a separate bin. My thinking is that once I have a pile of these items I can sit down and contact the product vendors or container manufacturers and ask them to properly label their containers with resin id codes.
If enough people ask for properly-labeled packaging, I think that businesses will definitely start to pay attention. Even if only some of the container manufacturers start to label all their products, we can use those manufacturers as leverage and get companies to switch or threaten to switch to a new container supplier if all of the plastic parts on a given container are not properly marked.