Almost every household has plastic containers. They could be used for storing foods or other smaller items to promote organization in the house. However, do you know that some plastics are not really recyclable than the others? Do you use plastic containers that are safe for living? Check out the shopping guide below before you decide to buy plastic containers.
First of all, you need to know the different types of plastic. Plastics are put into categories based on their resin identification code. If you buy something made of plastic, you usually can see this resin identification code on the bottom of the plastic container. It normally comes with a recycling triangle logo that indicates a number in the middle. This number is the one you should be paying attention for.
Number 1 means Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET/PETE). You find this kind of plastic in plastic bottles or disposable soft drinks. When you buy one of those, make sure you dispose it after the first time use. PET is hard to clean and it absorbs and keeps bacteria and flavors.
Number 2 means High Density Polyethylene (HDPE). You can find it in jugs and liquid detergent bottles. HDPE doesn’t transmit known chemicals to your food and normally the municipal recycling program accepts it.
Number 3 means Polyvinyl Chloride (V or PVC). It can normally be found in plumbing pipes, cooking oil bottles and meat wrap. PVC contains phthalates – a sort of softeners – that mess up with hormonal development. Avoid this number 3 in your plastic container if you want to use it to store food.
Number 4 means Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE). Found in grocery bags and cling wraps, this plastic is safe and recyclable. However, there are perhaps less recycling companies that want to take containers made of LDPE.
Number 5 means Polypropylene (PP) as normally found in yoghurt cups and cloudy bottles. This type of plastic is safe and recyclable. But like LDPE, it is not an item most favored by recycling companies to manage.
Number 6 means Polystyrene (PS). If you buy a take-out coffee, you are most likely served with cups made of PS. It is not a recommended plastic type for your containers as it could leach styrene – suspected as carcinogen on human – into the food stored.
Number 7 means other types of plastic resins that are not mentioned above, mostly invented post 1987. It includes Polycarbonate (PC), Polylactide (PLA) and BPA-Free plastics. PLA is fine to use for food-based containers as it is the type of plastic that is made from renewable resources with high starch content like potatoes and sugar canes. It is unrecyclable but since it is made from plants, these plastics can be composted. On the other hand, PC and BPA-Free plastics should stay avoided. Polycarbonate is the only plastic made with Bisphenol A, a substance that has been linked to various health problems like heart disease and obesity.