If you are like me, and didn’t care much about the recycling sign with the number inside, you probably don’t think before you consume anything out of a plastic container. P told D and he told me that the number inside has a significance, which I thought was rather interesting. P was correct, and it helps to know what the numbers mean. So read on if you are interested in plastic vis-a-vis your health.
The arrows mean that the plastic is recyclable and the number printed inside the arrows is the plastic identification code.
So now, this sign with a 1 inside the triangle would mean that a plastic bottle, most often your cola bottle, that you call PET, is made of PET or PETE (polyethylene terephthalate). This one is in highest demand from manufacturers because it is inexpensive and lightweight. However, most of us (me, definitely included) use these bottles more than once. Please know that these PET bottles are for one-time use only. The one time use clause implies that you use the contents of the bottle, and then recycle it, rather than using the bottle to keep water at home. Reuse releases DEHP – a proven human carcinogen – as well as isphenol-A (BPA), which can cause breast and uterine cancer as well as an increased risk of miscarriage, and decreased testosterone levels – into the contents of the bottle. And, you cannot sue manufacturers for using PET because they intend it for one-time use of the consumer (seen that crush bottle after use sign on the lable?) and therefore “The use by consumers of PET polymer in food packaging, therefore, is demonstrated and considered safe,” says The International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI). When buying plastic bottles at stores for use as water bottles for children or adults, please ensure that you do not buy PET and make sure you dump the cola bottles into the recycle bin or trashbin after consumption. PET is also most commonly used for water and beer bottles; mouthwash bottles; peanut butter containers; salad dressing and vegetable oil containers; oven usable food trays, etc.
Many manufacturers claim PET is 100% safe and reusable, but do understand that this is probably their way of justifying the use of inexpensive packaging.
This sign with a 2 inside the triangle means that the plastic bottle is made of HDPE (high density polyethylene). It is found most commonly in Milk jugs, juice bottles; bleach, detergent and household cleaner bottles; shampoo bottles; some trash and shopping bags; motor oil bottles; butter and yogurt tubs; cereal box liners, etc. It is a sturdy and reliable translucent plastic with probably no known leaching characteristic. It is therefore ok to reuse these plastic bottles provided you wash them with warm (not hot !!) soapy water after each use to prevent the growth of bacteria.
This one with a 3 inside the triangle indicates V (Vinyl) or PVC. Used in Window cleaner and detergent bottles, shampoo bottles, cooking oil bottles, clear food packaging, wire jacketing, medical equipment, siding, windows, piping, etc, this is not food grade plastic. It is not entirely recyclable and can release a lot of harmful dioxins into the air. PVC contains DEHP, a phthalate that is a
suspected carcinogen readily found in numerous PVC products. Do not sniff or eat from PVC because poisonous chemicals
continuously off-gas from this grade of plastic.
The symbol with a 4 inside the triangle implies LDPE (low density polyethylene). It is used in Squeezable bottles; water bottles,bread and frozen food containers, dry cleaning and shopping bags; tote bags; clothing; furniture; carpets, etc. It is completely safe toreuse provided you wash it with soapy water after every use. Leaching risks are low, and therefore this grade of plastic is good forstoring food or for use as water bottles. Reputed brands like Tupperware and Ziploc use this grade of plastic for their products.
The symbol that shows 5 inside the triangle indicates PP (polypropylene) and is used in ome yogurt containers, syrup bottles, ketchup bottles, caps, straws, medicine bottles, etc. This is also extremely reusable and safe, and used by Tupperware and Ziploc and as cling sheets. It has a high meting point and therefore makes a good material for containers that must hold hot food. Leaching is minimal and well below safety levels and the plastic can be washed and reused any number of times before final recycling.
The symbol with a 6 is PS (polystyrene) and most often used in disposable plates and cups, meat trays, egg cartons, carry-out containers, aspirin bottles, compact disc cases, etc. This is difficult to recycle and is definitely not reusable because it leaches isphenol-A (BPA) – a harmful xenoestrogen that interferes with human hormonal messaging – along with other potential toxins intofood and drink. Recycle or trash these plastic items after one use and do not attempt to wash ans reuse these. Also, never ever use this grade of plastic in the microwave. It also contains styrene, has been associated with skin, eye and respiratory irritation, depression, fatigue, compromised kidney function, and central nervous system damage. Takeaway plastic containers fromrestaurants are made of this grade of plastic, so transfer the food into a safer container as soon as possible.
The symbol with a 7 indicates Other implying plastics, including acrylic, acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, fiberglass, nylon, polycarbonate, and polylactic acid. It is used in used in most plastic baby bottles, 5-gallon water bottles, “sport” water bottles, metal food can liners, clear plastic “sippy” cups and some clear plastic cutlery.olycarbonate is known to leach bisphenol A or BPA (a chemical that mimics the action of the human hormone estrogen) when heated or when harsh detergents are used (dishwashers with the combination of high heat and detergent could increase leaching). #7 is a catch all category for plastics that don’t fit into the #1-6 categories. Some may be labeled #7 “other” but are not polycarbonate. Do not reuse this plastic at all.
Enlightened? Me too !!
Updated later: You will find this post, word for word at aronyok.wordpress.com. Funny, huh?