On an everyday basis as individuals and business owners we use various types of plastic, did you know each plastic item has a different make and raw material used? There are many types and variants of plastic materials in use, for ease of use The Society of the Plastics Industry, Inc. (SPI) introduced its resin identification coding system in 1988 at the urging of recyclers around the country.
According to this, Plastic is identified in 7 forms which are popularly used around the world.
These 7 types of plastic and the numbering is useful for users and recyclers to identify which piece of plastic can and cannot be recycled.
Ever wondered what the number on your shampoo bottle meant? Here is a quick guide on the types of plastic out there:
1. PET – Polyethylene Terephthalate
- Also known as wrinkle-free fiber
- It is Mostly used for packing food and drinks due to its strong ability to prevent oxygen from getting in and spoiling the product
- Eg: Clear bottles, food trays.
PET has a High Recycling Rate
2. HDPE – High-Density Polyethylene
- Dense, strong, and thick in comparison to PET.
- Relatively more stable than PET
- Eg: Opaque milk, juice containers, grocery bags, shampoo bottles, medicine bottles
HDPE has a High Recycling Rate
3. PVC – Polyvinyl Chloride
- Second, most widely used plastic resin in the world before declared as the cause of serious health risks and environmental pollution issues.
- Rarely accepted by recycling programs.
- Eg: toys, blister wrap, cling wrap, detergent bottles, loose-leaf binders, blood bags and medical tubing
PVC has a Low Recycling Rate
4. LDPE – Low-Density Polyethylene
- Most used family of plastics in the world
- Generally thinner more flexible form of polyethylene
- Eg: bags (grocery, dry cleaning, bread, frozen food bags, newspapers, garbage), plastic wraps
LDPE has a Very low recycling rate
5. PP – Polypropylene
- Stiffer and more resistant to heat
- considered a safer plastic option for food and drink use
- Eg: hot food containers, disposable diaper and sanitary pad liners
PP has a Low Recycling Rate
6. PS – Polystyrene or Styrofoam
- Commonly used for storing food.
- Releases a toxicant when exposed to hot and oily food.
- Affects genes, lungs, liver, and immune system
- Eg egg cartons, disposable cups and bowls, bike helmets
PS has a Low Recycling Rate
7. Other Plastic
- Number 7 is for all plastics other than those identified by number 1-6 and also plastics that may be layered or mixed with other types of plastics, such as bioplastics, polycarbonate, polylactide, acrylic, acrylonitrile butadiene, styrene, fiberglass, and nylon
- Due to its toxicity, several countries have banned the use of PC for baby bottles and infant formula packaging
- Eg: baby bottles, sippy cups, water bottles, water gallon, metal food can liner, a ketchup container, and dental sealants
Other Plastics have Very Low Recycling Rate
Plastic waste can be effectively managed if there is conscious use at the most basic level where waste is generated on a daily basis. Curious to know how you can reduce your plastic waste footprint at home? Click here for a quick guide