Green Living QA: What Do The Recycling Numbers Mean And Are Some Safer Than Others?
07/22/2012 | 12:19 PM
What do the recycling numbers mean and are some safer than others?
If you must use plastic, check the recycling symbol on the bottom of your bottle. If it’s a #2 HDPE (high density polyethylene), or a #4 LDPE (low density polyethylene), or a #5 PP (polypropylene), your bottle is fine. The type of plastic bottle in which water and soft drinks are usually sold is a #1. While it is considered safe it is only recommended for one time use. Do not refill it – it makes a good breeding ground for bacteria. For your baby, choose tempered glass or opaque plastic made of polypropylene (#5) which does not contain BPA.
Plastics to Avoid:
#3 Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) contains the phthalate (DEHP), an endocrine disruptor and probable human carcinogen.
#6 Polystyrene (PS) may leach styrene, a possible endocrine disruptor and human carcinogen.
#7 Polycarbonate – those fabulous colorful hard plastic bottles – may leach bisphenol-A, BPA (hormone disruptor) as bottles age, are heated or exposed to acidic solutions. #7 is used in most baby bottles, sippy cups, five-gallon water jugs and in many reusable sports bottles.
Here’s the full list for reference:
#1 – PET or PETE (polyethylene terephthalate), Found In: Soft drinks, water and beer bottles; mouthwash bottles; peanut butter containers; salad dressing and vegetable oil containers. It poses low risk of leaching; intended for one-time use.
#2 – HDPE (high density polyethylene), Found In: Milk jugs, juice bottles; bleach, detergent and household cleaner bottles; shampoo bottles; some trash and shopping bags; butter and yogurt tubs; cereal box liners. It carries low risk of leaching and is recyclable into many goods.
#3 – V (Vinyl) or PVC, Found In: Window cleaner and detergent bottles, shampoo bottles, cooking oil bottles, clear food packaging. PVC contains chlorine, so its manufacture can release highly dangerous dioxins. Don’t use in microwave!
#4 – LDPE (low density polyethylene), Found In: Squeezable bottles; bread, frozen food, shopping bags; tote bags. It carries low risk of leaching.
#5 – PP (polypropylene), Found In: Some yogurt containers, syrup bottles, ketchup bottles, caps, straws. It has a high melting point, and so is often used for containers that accept hot liquid. Contains no BPA; considered non-leaching.
#6 – PS (polystyrene), Found In: Disposable plates and cups, meat trays, egg cartons, carry-out containers, aspirin bottles. It can be made into rigid or foam products, like Styrofoam. Evidence suggests it can leach toxins into foods.
#7 – Miscellaneous, Found In: Three- and five-gallon water bottles, certain food containers. Polycarbonate is #7, and is found in the hard plastic bottles that studies prove it leaches hormone disruptors, especially when heated.