Plastic an un avoidable material factor included in one or other form in every household. Plastic now became very much popular because of the user friendliness and attractive look. Plastics are typically organic polymers of high molecular mass and often contain other substances. They are usually synthetic, most commonly derived from petrochemicals, however, an array of variants are made from renewable materials such as polylactic acid from corn or cellulosics from cotton linters.
Due to their low cost, ease of manufacture, versatility, and imperviousness to water, plastics are used in a multitude of products of different scale, including paper clips and spacecraft. They have prevailed over traditional materials, such as wood, stone, horn and bone, leather, metal, glass, and ceramic, in some products previously left to natural materials.
Plastic codes are devleloped by plastics industry to faciliate recycling. The seven plastic resin identification codes are available. There are several types of plastics – some being safer than others. Plastic products are commonly marked with a number enclosed by the recycling symbol, which is typically found on the bottom of the product. This symbol is used to identify the plastic and recyclability of the product. In general plastic products marked with the numbers 2, 4 and 5 are the safer choices.
#1-Polyethylene terephthalate (PET or PETE)
#2 -High-density polyethylene (HDPE)
#3-Polyvinyl chloride (PVC)
#4-Low-density polyethylene (LDPE)
#7-Other types of plastic
PET or #1 type plastic : PETE is commonly used for packag es of Cosmetics, Household cleaners, Water, Juice, Soft drinks, Salad dressings, Oil, Peanut butter etc. Studies have found number 1 marked plastic wares or water bottles that have been placed in heat for prolonged times. Although PETE does not contain BPA or Phthalates, it’s always best to make sure that your water bottles are not temperature abused. Plastic #1 is only intended for one time use.
#2 -High-density polyethylene (HDPE): High-density polyethylene (HDPE) is a polyethylene thermoplastic made from petroleum. HDPE is hard, opaque and can withstand somewhat high temperatures. HDPE is used in the manufacturing of toys, and the packaging of Laundry detergent, Milk jugs, Folding chairs & tables,e tc. No known health concerns for this type.
#3-Polyvinyl chloride (PVC): Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is a thermoplastic polymer. Through the use of phthalates, a plasticizer, it can be made softer and more flexible. Used mainly in Shower curtains, Cling wrap, Waterbeds, Pool toys etc. PVC can also be found in car interiors and vinyl flooring, resulting in the release of toxic chemicals into the air. Choose all baby toys, pool toys, and bath toys that are labeled to be PVC, Phthalate and BPA free.
Plastic #4 – Low-density polyethylene (LDPE) is a thermoplastic made from petroleum. It can be found translucent or opaque. It is flexible and tough but breakable. Used for the manufacturing of Juice and milk cartons, Most plastic grocery bags, Some packaging material etc. No known health concerns.
Plastic #5 – Polypropylene (PP) is a thermoplastic polymer. It is strong, tough, has a high resistance to heat and acts as a barrier to moisture. Used in making Yogurt & margarine tubs, Plastic cups & baby bottles, Kitchenware, microwavable plastic containers and lids. Most PP are microwavable safe and dishwasher .
Plastic #6 – Polystyrene (PS) is a petroleum-based plastic. It can either be hard or used in the form of styrofoam. Polystyrene is widely used in packaging materials and insulation. Some common items include:Disposable cutlery, CD and DVD cases, Egg cartons, Foam cups & to-go foam packaging from restaurants. According to the Foundation for Achievements in Science and Education fact sheet, long term exposure to small quantities of styrene can cause neurotoxic (fatigue, nervousness, difficulty sleeping), hematological (low platelet and hemoglobin values), cytogenetic (chromosomal and lymphatic abnormalities), and carcinogenic effects. Styrene is classified as a possible human carcinogen by the EPA and by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).
Plastic #7 can be a little tricky as it stands for “Other” which may or may not contain BPA. It is commonly used to label Polycarbonate (PC). The letters PC may be present with the recycling symbol, which would indicate that the product is made with polycarbonate. Polycarbonate is derived from BPA. Found in CD/DVD cases, Baby bottles, 3 and 5 gallon reusable bottles. BPA has been found to be an endocrine disruptor. Choose bottles made with the #1, #2, #4, or #5 recycling. It’s better to avoid or choose good coded varieties for better health and living of humans.