What You Need to Know About the 7 Types of Plastic

Going through your refrigerator, cupboards, and home in general, you’ll likely find different items made of plastic. However, not all plastics are created equal. The types of plastic are identified by the number within the little triangular arrows symbol we often associate with recycling. Some plastics contain chemicals such as phthalates, Bisphenol A (BPA), and dioxins that can leach into food when in contact with it.

The degree to which these specific chemicals are considered dangerous for our health is widely debated, but they have been studied and shown to disrupt hormones. Also, the process of making these plastics uses, creates, and disposes of harmful chemicals which puts them into our environment. Here is what you need to know about the seven types of plastic for your health.

What You Need to Know About the 7 Types of Plastic

#1 – PET (polyethylene terephthalate)
Found in: water bottles, pop bottles, condiment containers
May leach: carcinogens, antimony
3 R’s: recyclable, not reusable

#2 – HDPE (high-density polyethylene)
Found in: milk jugs, detergent bottles, toys, some plastic bags
May leach: None, thought to be one of the safest plastics
3 R’s: recyclable, reusable

#3 PVC (polyvinyl chloride)
Found in: cling wrap, oil bottles, teething rings, toys, cables
May leach: phthalate DEHP which interferes with hormonal development, dioxin which is a carcinogen
3 R’s: not recyclable, generally long-lasting use

#4 LPDE (low-density polyethylene)
Found in: squeezable bottles, bread bags, grocery bags
May leach: none, considered low hazard
3 R’s: not commonly recycled – ask your depot, sometimes reusable

#5 PP (polypropylene)
Found in: disposable diapers, plastic bottle lids, margarine and yogurt containers, chip bags, straws
May leach: Mixed results in studies, has a higher heat tolerance
3 R’s: recycable, reusable

#6 PS (polystryrene) aka Styrofoam
Found in: take out containers, disposable dishes, egg cartons
May leach: styrene which is a possible carcinogen and affects the nervous system
3 R’s: recycling sometimes available, not reusable

#7 Other
Found in: baby bottles, sippy cups, 5-gallon water bottles, epoxy lining of tin food cans
May leach: BPA which is hormone disrupting and linked to cancer and obesity
3 R’s: hard to determine the ability to recycle and reuse because of the multiple types within this category

You can look at any of your containers and many other plastic products to see which of the seven types of plastic it is made of.

I looked through my own cupboards, and our Rubbermaid food storage containers are #5. I use them for food in the fridge, but I do not put them in the microwave because heating increases the amount of chemicals transferred. I’ve also started purchasing more glass storage containers and saving old jars over the years.

Do you reduce any of the seven types of plastics in your home? How?

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8 Comment

  1. Reply
    liz n.
    March 11, 2016 at 9:06 am

    We try to avoid polystyrene as much as possible because none of the recycling centers in our area will accept it.

    We also re-purpose any containers we can for use at home: yogurt containers to start seedlings, peanut butter jars to store pantry items, that sort of thing. Milk jugs make good mini-greenhouses to protect plants in winter.

    There’s just so much overkill in product packaging these days that I sometimes get grumpy with companies for the amount of waste they create before any of us have actually used the product! Makeup and skincare products are the WORST for this kind of over-packaging. I recently ordered a product from a company I love and was thrilled when it arrived because they got rid of all extraneous packaging!

    1. Reply
      March 12, 2016 at 5:32 pm

      I love all your ideas for repurposing! So creative and useful. I totally agree about the overkill in product packaging. It is frustrating for sure! I’m glad that some brands are starting to take more eco-friendly strides in reducing packaging or using recycled materials.

  2. Reply
    Amanda @ The Fundamental Home
    March 14, 2016 at 11:35 am

    Thanks for creating this post. Like most people, I have considered the danger, but life goes on and I have never taken the time to check out the details. I will be pinning this for future reference.

    1. Reply
      March 14, 2016 at 12:23 pm

      Yes, the issues around plastic – especially the difference between different types – are not often thought about. I’m happy you found it useful and will have it as reference for the future.

  3. Reply
    March 18, 2016 at 1:27 pm

    These are sort of scary but good things to know!!
    Thanks for sharing with us on Thursday Favorite Things!

    1. Reply
      March 20, 2016 at 11:58 am

      Definitely, and it’s not something that is widely known or talked about.

  4. Reply
    March 22, 2016 at 4:56 pm

    This fantastic post is being featured on my blog today as part of Tuesdays with a Twist bloghop: http://www.godsgrowinggarden.com/2016/03/time-to-link-up-tuesdays-with-twist-155.html

    1. Reply
      March 22, 2016 at 10:35 pm

      Aw, thanks so much! I’m thrilled. 🙂

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