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Decoding Symbols

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On this day and age, especially that Eco Products are everywhere people must have the skills on Decoding Symbols. 

Simply by decoding symbols, you are not only helping yourself, but also your community freeing from unnecessary wastes. If you are into eco-practices, then you may like this article.

As a consumer, how many times you have visited a grocery store to pick up your favorite drink from the fridge just to look straight behind the label if the container is eco-friendly or not? Chances are, it’s zero times, or being close to zero.

Decoding Symbols are important to Consumers. For instance, it adds another layer of protection for us buyers of products. Retailers or distributors should play their part as well, but we will discuss this in the next article.

You know those symbols behind the label or sometime at the bottom part of the bottle? That is what I am referring into. Each number has its own equivalent use, but they are written off because of their length in words. So instead, they used numerical symbols to inform the buyer. 

When you have the knowledge of Decoding Symbols, you can easily identify what number is bad for our health and which one is safe. It will really help you a lot, especially in your buying decision making.

The importance of knowing these symbols

Are you a manufacturer? It doesn’t matter whether it is an ECO business or not. What is more important is the description written on your product label. It has to be informative. Therefore, it is your duty as the owner of the business to know these symbols, and to make sure that they are well and clearly printed on the label. In other words, your packaging must contain enough information to help potential buyers on knowing what they are buying. 

This is what we are going to explore in this article. Decoding Symbols, including their common usage, and some safety tips on handling these plastic made-materials. 

However, please bear in mind that this is a simplified version. Chemical composition and other serious stuff are not included in this write up. Should you wish to get more information, I suggest you to visit other useful articles on the net.

Symbols and their meanings and usage

PET (Polyethylene terephthalate)

Soda, Soft Drinks and Water Bottles.

It is okay to reuse, but with strict limitation

Repeated use increases bacterial growth

PE-HD (polyethylene high-density)

Bottle for Cooking Oil, Hair Shampoo, Toys, Plastic Chairs and Cellphone Casing

PE-HD is reusable and recyclable

Products normally produced from a Recycled PE-HD includes: Plastic Table, Picnic Chairs, Trash Bins and Outdoor Furniture

PVC (polyvinyl chloride)

Clear Plastic Film Rolls, Bottle for Oils and Petroleum Gels, Picture Frames, Window Frames and Hoses

PVC is Not Recyclable

PVC contains toxic

PE-LD (Low-density polyethylene)

Laundry Bags, Dry Cleaning Carriers, Squeeze Bottles, Grocery Bags, Fruit and Bread Bags

PE-LD is reusable, but with limitation. PE-LD is not all the time recyclable

Recycled PE-LD is normally used for Engineering and Construction supplies

PP (polypropylene)

Disposable Diapers, Straws, Rope, Packaging Tapes, Food Containers

Some products made from PP are reusable, but with limitation. 

This type of plastic is Recyclable. However, only few companies have the machine and capability.

PS (polystyrene) a.k.a Styrofoam

Take Away food containers, drinking cups, plastic cutlery, cold storage containers, packaging insulators

It is not OKAY to reuse.

It is recyclable. If you wish to donate your Styrofoam, contact Solution To Styro Project

Don’t Throw your Styrofoam. Clean Collect and Donate

For more information, please visit this page

O means Other (BPA, Polycarbonate) PC (polycarbonate), BPA (Bisphenol A)

Window Sheets, Cooler Bottles, Vehicle Parts, Aircraft Interior Parts

Not Reusable

This type of plastic is Recyclable. However, only few companies have the right equipment.

Watch Out Guys! There are 2 Types of “O” Codes

Other (PLA, polylactic acid) Compostable Plastic

Compostable Grocery Bags and Take Away Food Containers

It is Not Okay for Reusing

PLA means compostable plastic made from organic materials such as Cornstarch

Decoding Symbols Has It's Proper Use

In short, we must learn how to read it. I know it’s a lot to take, and for some it’s confusing, but you’re not alone. 

From the way how I lay out this table-chart, my intention is to give the readers the convenience of understanding these symbols. We can call it as a heads-up or an idea for others on how to reduce, dispose, or even re-purpose a particularly coded plastic.

Thanks for reading and I hope that you learned something from it.

Wordings & Graphics: Jesse A. Atienza

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GIGO is an acronym for Green Industries, Green Organizations.