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Identifying Types of Plastic

Even though there are only six commonly used plastics there are hundreds of others, along with hundreds of combinations of different plastics used together and a wide range of different additives.

The first step is to look for a plastics identification code.

If there is none, exact identification of the plastic is not really possible without sophisticated and expensive equipment.

There are however a number of simple tests you can use:

  1. Examining the material.
  2. Cutting a small sliver.
  3. Floating the plastic in water - the specific gravity test.
  4. Conducting flame tests.

We recommend ?Know Your Plastics? published by the Plastics and Chemicals Industries Association of Australia for detailed instructions. Copies can be ordered at

Please ensure that you use normal safety precautions when testing plastic types.

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