Not all plastics are created equal. There is quite a variety of plastics that we surround ourselves with. Now I do not particularly like any plastic and I am slowly getting rid of as much plastic as I can. However, there are times when plastic is the only option. Some plastics are safer then others; we now know that plastic can leach harmful chemicals. Which plastics are the ones we want to avoid?
Most plastics are labeled on the bottom by a number in the center of the standard recycling symbol. This number tells you what type of plastic the item is made out of. Now there are some plastics that do not get a number label. Why is beyond me. Companies claim they do not label their plastics because it is a company secret, this sounds ridiculous to me. In the case of unlabeled plastic, you are best to not buy it, as you have no idea what kind of plastic it is made out of.
There is currently 7 numbers in the plastic labeling system.
1 PETE: Polyethylene Terephthalate – A safer plastic. Usually a number 1 plastic is a single time use plastic.
2 HDPE: High-Density Polyethylene – A safer plastic.
3 V: Polyvinyl Chloride – Avoid. May contain/leach BPA, lead, phthalates, mercury, cadmium, and dioxins.
4 LDPE: Low-Density Polyethylene – A safer plastic.
5 PP: Polypropylene – A safer plastic.
6 PS: Polystyrene – Avoid. May leach styrene, a toxin.
7 PC or Other: Polycarbonate or Other- Avoid. Polycarbonate is made with BPA, which can leach from the plastic. Plastics labeled Other can contain polycarbonate. It is best to assume it is unsafe.
To sum everything up: Plastics 1, 2, 4 & 5 are safer. Plastics 3, 6, and 7 need to be avoided.