What These are Symbols in Plastic – Which to Avoid

Ever wondered what these numbers and symbols mean on plastic containers? Did you know that while the use of all plastics should be limited as much as possible, some are safer than others?

It’s time to find out about the different plastics you use in drinks and foods every day and what their impact is not only for you but also for the environment.

The symbols on the plastic objects

Each plastic container or bottle has a recycling symbol. This symbol is a number from 1 to 7, in a triangle. These symbols provide important information about the toxic chemicals used in the particular plastic, how likely it is to extract some of these substances in its content (ie in the foods and beverages it contains), whether it is biodegradable plastic and, finally, how safe it is for your health.

In general, in plastic containers, you should avoid two chemicals: bisphenol-A and phthalates . Both of these chemicals interfere with the hormonal function of the body. Many studies have shown the harmful effects of bisphenol-A. Phthalates are generally considered safer than bisphenol-A. However, it is wise to avoid both. Whether a plastic container contains bisphenol-A, or phthalates, depends on its type. You can identify the type of plastic in a container by looking at the recycling code, which must be mandatory on the container (usually at the bottom).

Symbols for recycling of plastic on white background

Which plastic bottles and bottles are dangerous and which are safe for your health

Type 1: Polyethylene terephthalate – Do not reuse

You will usually find it in water bottles, juices, salad dressings, vegetable oils and mouthwash. The polyethylene terephthalate is light, clean and smooth. Manufactured for single use only. Although it does not contain bisphenol-A, or phthalates, it contains antimony, a potential human carcinogen. Also, harmful bacteria can “hook” and grow on it as you use it again and again. The containers of polyethylene terephthalate have the “PET” symbol on them.

Type 2: High Density Polyethylene – Safe

It is a relatively rigid plastic that you will usually find in plastic containers for milk, detergents, freezer bags and plastic food bags. These plastics contain no bisphenol-A, nor phthalates. It is not known whether they contain other harmful chemicals. High density polyethylene containers have the symbol “HDPE” on them.

Type 3: Polyvinyl Chloride – Dangerous (contains phthalates)

Polyvinyl chloride contains phthalates that can cause reproduction problems in humans. This type of plastic can be clear and flexible, but also darker and stiffer. Plastic food containers, usually made of polyvinyl chloride, are fruit juice bottles, cooking oil and clear / transparent plastic food packaging. Plastic containers with polyvinyl chloride have the “V” symbol on them.


Type 4: Low Density Polyethylene – Safe

You will usually find it in packages for frozen foods in bottles that are compressed because they are flexible and resistant to solvents. It contains none of the known harmful chemicals. Low density polyethylene plastic containers have the “LDPE” symbol on them.

Type 5: Polypropylene – Safe

Polypropylene containers do not release harmful chemicals into the food or liquids stored therein. These plastics are usually found in packaging for yogurt, medicine and ketchup, mustard, etc. They are flexible, hard and translucent plastic and have high solvent resistance. Polypropylene containers have the symbol “PP” on them.

Type 6: Polystyrene – Dangerous

Polysterene is Styrofoam, which is well known for being difficult to recycle and therefore harmful to the environment. This type of plastic also poses a health risk, absorbing potentially toxic chemicals, especially when heated. Most recycling programs don’t even accept it for processing. The polystyrene is found in plastic CD cases, egg tabs, meat trays, plates and disposable cups and more. When recycled, it is reused on egg tabs, ventilation ducts, insulation and in foam plastic pieces that we put in other packaging.

Type 7: Polycarbonate – Dangerous

Plastic containers with this substance should be avoided as they may contain bisphenol-A, which gradually releases into their contents. These plastics often have the “Y” symbol, or even the “Other” sign on them. You will find them in large bottles of refrigerated water, in hard, reusable bottles of water and in plastic coffee mugs. Manufacturers use polycarbonate for these products because it is almost impossible to crush.

Source – iatropedia.gr

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