Monday, June 23, 2008

Mother's going GREEN Day 28 - More on Plastics

After I wrote my blog yesterday, I still felt somewhat confused about the whole plastic thing so I decided to investigate a little further.

I looked in my kitchen at all my 'plastics' and found that 99% of the time they had a little logo (as depicted on this post) or visit This logo is quite important as it tells you what kind of plastic it is or is made of. Here is a quick summary of my findings or for more detailed information please visit:

Symbol with a #1: Polyethylene terephalate (PET or PETE) is used in soft drink, juice, water, beer, mouthwash, peanut butter, salad dressing and other similar containers. This kind of plastic leaches Antimony trioxide. The longer a liquid is left in such a container the greater the concentration of antimony released into the liquid.

Symbol with a #2: High density polyethylene (HDPE) is used in opaque milk, water, and juice containers or cereal box liners. This type of plastic seems to be safe however research is ongoing.
Symbol with a #3: Polyvinyl chloride (V or Vinyl or PVC) is used in toys, clear food and non-food packaging (e.g., cling wrap), some squeeze bottles, shampoo bottles, cooking oil, shower curtains, medical tubing, and numerous construction products (e.g., pipes, siding). PVC has been described as one of the most hazardous consumer products ever created. It has been strongly linked to asthma and allergic symptoms in children; may cause certain types of cancer.

Symbol with a #4: Low density polyethylene (LDPE) is used in grocery store, dry cleaning, bread and frozen food bags, most plastic wraps, squeezable bottles (honey, mustard). Use of this plastic also seems to be safe but research is still on-going

Symbol with a #5: Polypropylene (PP) is used in ketchup bottles, medicine and syrup bottles, straws, Rubbermaid and other opaque plastic containers, including some baby bottles. Again, this plastic seems safe, but again, research is still ongoing.

Symbol with a #6: Polystyrene (PS) is used in Styrofoam containers, egg cartons, disposable cups and bowls, take-out food containers, plastic cutlery, compact disc cases. It leaches styrene, which is an endocrine disruptor mimicking the female hormone estrogen, and thus has the potential to cause reproductive and developmental problems.

Symbol with a #7: Other This category seems to be for all the other plastics that do not fit into any of the other groups It is important to interpret this category correctly because it includes polycarbonate - a dangerous plastic - but it also includes the new, safer, biodegradable bio-based plastics made from renewable resources such as corn and potato starch, and sugar cane.

Polycarbonate (the bad one) is used in most plastic baby bottles, clear plastic “sippy” cups, some “sports” water bottles, metal food can liners, some juice and ketchup containers, compact discs, cell phones, computers. Polycarbonate leaches Bisphenol A (BPA which has been in the news of late)

There is also two other types of plastic that fall under code 7 are acrylonitrile styrene (AS) or styrene acrylonitrile (SAN), and acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS). Both AS/SAN and ABS are higher quality plastics with increased strength, rigidity, toughness and temperature and chemical resistance. AS/SAN is used in mixing bowls, thermos casing, dishes, cutlery, coffee filters, toothbrushes, outer covers (printers, calculators, lamps), battery housing. The incorporation of butadiene during the manufacture of AS/SAN, produces ABS, which is an even tougher plastic. ABS is used in LEGO toys, pipes, golf club heads, automotive parts, protective head gear. Again these 2 kinds of plastic seem okay but are still undergoing research.

So in a nut shell: Plastics with the numbers 2, 4 & 5 seem the safest so far with some of number 7. I am personally going to stay clear of all plastics numbered 1, 3, 6 and the bad number 7's. Although I am still weary of the number 7. And personally I figure if it does not have a label on it it is just plain bad.

This has now cleared up the plastic mystery for me and hopefully for you to.


Greener Grass Notes, Inc. said...

I have a 14 month old and another on the way, so I really find information like this helpful to my family. I was eco-minded before my daughter was born, but I am 1000 times more aware now.

Thanks for great informaton - I'll visit your blog regularly for more valuable info!

Anonymous said...

I was reading this while eating blueberries out of the container. Out of curiousity I flipped it over... #3! Holy cow. I just finished a letter to the farm who grew them. Scary what our food comes in, even organic food.