Ever noticed those little arrows on your plastic bottles and containers? Do you find yourself asking questions like ‘Can I heat this in a microwave?’ ‘Is this container safe to use for the kids?’ ‘Is this container good for the environment?’. In this article, we talk about the 7 different types of plastic and how safe and recyclable each and every type is.
This type is called ‘Polyethylene terephthalate’. It is also known as PETE or PET. Polyethylene is one of the most widely produced plastics in the world. This type of plastic is widely used for bottled water and cleaning product containers. Plastic #1 is relatively safe; you have to keep it out of the heat and avoid reusing it to protect yourself and your family from any bacteria. It’ is highly recyclable so you can always submit it to recycling programs.
This type is called Polyethylene (PE). Low and high-density polyethylene (LDPE and HDPE respectively) are the two of the most common types. The low is mostly used for plastic bags while the high is used for things like toiletries and detergent containers. It’s considered to be a safe type of plastic. This also is picked up by most recycling programs.
The third type is called Polyvinyl chloride, or PVC. As you may be familiar with the name, PVC is widely used in residential and commercial property construction applications. It is also used to make food wrap, bottles for cooking oil, shower curtains, and inflatable mattresses. PVC is completely unsafe for cooking and heating. You should always check labels for things that are PVC free.
The next type of plastic is called Low-density polyethylene (LDPE). Although it is not recyclable and harmful to the environment, it is safe to use and heat. This is used to make grocery bags, some food wraps, and squeezable bottles
There is also polypropylene (PP). Some of the items produced with PP include yogurt cups, medicine and ketchup bottles, kitchenware and “microwave-safe” plastic containers. Generally, PP is microwave-safe. however, it is not healthy to eat foods that have been heated in it. As long as you keep it away from the microwave, PP is considered safe.
Polystyrene or PS is another type of 7 types of plastic. It is commonly used in making disposable containers, food ware, packaging, and test tubes. when heated, Polystyrene releases toxic chemicals when heated. It also takes hundreds of years to decompose which is bad for the environment.
This type is for all other types of plastic (BPA, Polycarbonate and LEXAN). A common concern with type #7 is its potential for chemical leaching into food and drink products packaged in polycarbonate containers made using BPA (Bisphenol A). BPA is a xenoestrogen, a known endocrine disruptor. Number 7 plastics are used to make baby bottles, sippy cups, water cooler bottles and car parts. #7 plastics are not for reuse, unless they have the PLA compostable coding. When possible it is best to avoid #7 plastics, especially for children’s food.