In every manufacturing process there is waste. That may be from scrap packaging, fluids used in specific processes, and in injection molding that means excess plastic from gates and sprues. The goal with any process is to reduce the amount of waste from the process. With many products made at SEA-LECT Plastics, the excess plastic is being collected, cleaned and segregated to be ground into small pellets and reused in future injection molding. It’s standard fare for the industry and just one way that we are protecting the environment.
What is the Industry Standard for Scrap Recycling?
You’ve probably seen the three arrow icon on the bottom of some plastic products with a number in the middle. Those numbers are part of the standard system of symbols to mark the predominant plastic material present in the product. The system is called the Resin Identification Code (RIC Code). This coding system was first developed by the Society of the Plastics Industry in 1988, but it is currently administered by ASTM International.
The current standard for RIC Codes is specified in ASTM D7611/D7611M-20 – Standard Practice for Coding Plastic Manufactured Articles for Resin Identification. The standard defines the RIC Codes as “a molded, imprinted or raised symbol or wording that consists of an equilateral triangle, a Resin Identification Number, and an Abbreviated Term for polymeric material.”
Since a Resin Identification Code exists for the owner of a plastic product to be able to understand its main plastic material, the most important part of the Code is the resin. RIC Codes are currently used to identify seven different types of plastic resins, which are numbered 1-7. These resins are (1) polyethylene terephthalate, (2) high-density polyethylene, (3) polyvinyl chloride, (4) low-density polyethylene, (5) polypropylene, (6) polystyrene, and (7) other plastics. While they are meant to help manufacturers identify resins, they can also help consumers with understanding recycling in their local communities. Your community recycling center may have different bins or areas for each resin number in the system.
How Does SEA-LECT Recycle Plastics?
SEA-LECT Plastics does currently use resins that are classified in the RIC Code system, which makes some of the resins we use easily recyclable through established methods. For other products we injection mold and assemble, the resins can be ground into small pellets and combined with virgin resin for new product injection molding.
Each product has a limit on how much (usually based on percentage by weight) can be added back in. The durability, color pigment, and other factors determine the maximum that can be reintegrated back into fresh resin. Sprues, gates, and other byproducts from the molding process are ground and reused as much as possible to reduce manufacturing cost and process waste. In any case, the customer is aware of the use of “Regrind” and has given permission to use it.
What Happens to Process Waste If It Can’t Be Used Again?
Not all plastic scrap can be used in-house and in those cases SEA-LECT Plastics gives the material to approved plastic recyclers that can utilize the processed resin. The goal on every design and product made is to utilize resins that can be reintegrated at SEA-LECT Plastics or through another partner to eliminate plastic waste entirely. We take Reduce, Reuse, Recycle to heart.
How Do You Determine If Recycling Is Possible On A New Product Idea?
Determining the recycling opportunity on a new product idea is tough. You can find many resources online that can offer suggestions, but there are thousands of resins available to select from. Your best opportunity to select the most appropriate resin for product design, manufacturing, durability, and recyclability is to talk with an industry expert that manufacturers products every day.
Determining if plastics will be your best choice for a new product idea, and which resin would best suit your new product takes an expert level of design and manufacturing. SEA-LECT Plastics can aid with resin selection, turn-key assembly options, and program management to see the complete development cycle through with success. Give us a call at (425) 339-0288 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We can offer you advice on the best technology to use, the best materials to meet your product demands, and how to navigate through each development stage. At SEA-LECT Plastics, we specialize in military product applications, outdoor adventure gear, musical instruments, supporting the medical and consumer product industries. Our goal is to make your project efficient and cost-effective to manufacture, assemble, and ship no matter how complicated.
Matthias Poischbeg was born and raised in Hamburg, Germany. Matt moved to Everett, Wash., after finishing his bachelor’s degree in business in 1995 to work for Sea-Dog Corporation, a manufacturer, and distributor of marine and rigging hardware established in 1923.
In 1999, Matt took over the reins at Sea-Lect Plastics Corporation, a sister company of Sea-Dog and a manufacturer of plastic injection molded products with an in-house tool & die shop. Matthias Poischbeg is also a contributor to Grit Daily.