Understanding the differences between types of plastic will help you make better decisions in choosing and recycling plastics…
Plastic bottles are everywhere around us. The plastic is used for packing drinking water, soda, condiments and various food products.
This way provides manufacturers with a cheap and convenient way to package their products, but after the using, if they are not recycled properly it takes on average, 1,000 years to biodegrade.
In the production are used chemicals that pose a health risk to consumers.
Consumers are advised, when buying bottled water, to check the labels on the bottom of the bottle, in order to protect their health.
Those labeled with letters like HDP, PP, HDPE and a few others, do not release toxic materials into the water.
The content of the bottle must be labeled by every brand, using either letters, numbers or number symbols.
Here are the seven standard classifications for plastics, and the recycling and reuse information for each type:
1. PET or PETE (Polyethylene Terephthalate)
These bottles can possibly release chemicals and heavy metals and that affect the hormonal balance.
PET is one of the most commonly used plastics and is found in some packaging and most water and pop bottles. Repeated use increases the risk of leaking bacterial growth. Proper cleaning of the PET plastic requires harmful chemicals.
2. HDP or HDPE (High-Density Polyethylene)
This plastic practically releases no chemicals.
These bottles are recommended by experts when buying bottled water because it is probably the healthiest water you can buy.
HDPE plastic is used to make milk jugs, oil bottles, detergent, toys, and some plastic bags. It is considered one of the safest forms of plastic and the most commonly recycled.
3. PVC or 3V (Polyvinyl Chloride)
The PVC can release 2 toxic chemicals that affect the hormones in your body.
PVC (3V) is a flexible, soft plastic, which is used to make food wrapping, teething rings, cooking oil bottles and children’s and pets’ toys.
It is also used as the covering material for computer cables, to make parts for plumbing and plastic pipes.
It is perfect for making window frames, arbors, garden hoses, raised beds and fences, as it is relatively resistant to sunlight and weather,.
4. LDPE (Low-Density Polyethylene)
It is not used for the production of bottles, but for plastic bags. It is not dangerous as it does not release any chemicals into the water.
LDPE can be found in shrink wraps, squeezable bottles, dry cleaner garment bags, and the packages of bread.
They are mostly used for the plastic grocery bags, but also for some clothing and furniture.
5. PP (Polypropylene)
This is a white colored or semi – transparent plastic. It is mostly used as a packing for syrups and yogurt cups.
Polypropylene plastic (PP) is lightweight and tough and has excellent heat-resistance qualities. Can be used as a barrier against moisture, chemicals, and grease.
PP is commonly used for disposable diapers, plastic bottle tops, margarine and yogurt containers, potato chip bags, packing tape, straws, and rope.
6. PS (Polystyrene)
This plastic releases some carcinogenic substances
Polystyrene (PS) is not expensive, lightweight and easily-formed plastic. It has a wide variety of uses, for instance, to make disposable styrofoam drinking cups, take-out food containers, plastic picnic cutlery or egg cartons.
PS is also widely used for underlay sheeting for laminate flooring and to make rigid foam insulation in home construction.
7. OTHER PC or non-labeled plastic
This is the most dangerous plastic in the food production. It releases BPA chemicals and it is often used in the production of food containers and sports water bottles.
This category was designed as a catch-all for polycarbonate (PC) and the recycling protocols are not standardized within this category.
The plastics industry has conformed to regulations by applying the required codes to consumer products, but it is up to individuals to read and understand the codes. By understanding these simple classifications, we can best use plastics to our advantage while minimizing the health and disposal issues that may otherwise arise.
As of today, it is very important to check the bottom of the bottle twice!
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