Characteristics of the Various Types of Plastics
written by: Rolf Hansen
Consumers have a way of identifying the type of plastic used to make numerous products, especially containers for food storage and packaging. Most of such plastic products, but not all of them, have a number molded, imprinted or formed on the container known as the resin identification code. This coding
system was developed by the Society of the Plastics Industry based in the United States back in 1988 to enable recycling of post-consumer plastics. For plastics companies, it is voluntary but is now relatively standard on particular products sold across the world. By having knowledge of a particular product’s code, a consumer can find out characteristics of the plastic and the risks of using it. Below is a brief description of some of the plastic resin codes.
Abbreviated as PETE or PET, this type of plastic is used in juice, soft drink, water, mouthwash, beer, peanut butter, detergent, salad dressing, cleaner and detergent contained. It is capable of leaching antimony trioxide, and the longer a liquid is left inside such a container, the greater the risk of the antimony being released into the liquid. However, it is considered a comparatively safe plastic.
High Density Polyethylene
This plastic is abbreviated as HDPE and is used opaque water, milk and juice containers as well as detergent, bleach, and shampoo bottles, together with garbage bags, margarine and yoghurt tubs, and also cereal box liners. It is considered a safer plastic.
Low Density Polyethylene
Abbreviated as LDPE, it is used in dry cleaning, grocery store, frozen food and bread bags, as well as most squeezable bottles such as mustard and honey, and plastic wraps. It is also one of the plastics considered safe.
The plastic is used in egg cartons, Styrofoam containers, disposable bowls and cups, as well as plastic cutlery, take-away food containers and compact disc cases.
Know your plastics.