When buying bottled water, you must check the bottom of the bottle, in order to protect your health and environment. At the bottom of every plastic bottles and containers there are recycling symbols. These symbols are used to identify the type of plastic and recyclability of the product.
The symbol is a number, ranging from 1 to 7, within a triangle. Using this recycling symbols, you can identify the safety of the plastic. There are several types of plastics – some being safer than others. Plastic bottles that are marked with the numbers 2, 4 and 5 are the safer choices.
Below are 7 common recycling symbols and their meanings:
Number 1 Plastics — PET or PETE (polyethylene terephthalate)
It is most commonly used plastic found in water bottles and soft drinks bottles. This type of plastic is intended for one time use. PETE plastic should not be reused because cleaning detergents and high temperatures can cause chemicals to leach out of the plastic into the water. These chemicals can have a significant effect on our health. Recycling rates of this plastic is relatively low (around 20 percent).
Number 2 Plastics — HDPE (high density polyethylene)
High-density polyethylene (HDPE) is a polyethylene thermoplastic made from petroleum. HDPE is hard, opaque and can remain unaffected by high temperatures. This plastic practically releases no chemicals, therefore no health concerns for consumers. These bottles are highly recommended by experts when buying bottled water. HDPE plastics also have one of the highest recycling rates.
Number 3 Plastics — V (Vinyl) or PVC
Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is a thermoplastic polymer. These type plastic is commonly found in window cleaner and detergent bottles, shampoo bottles, cooking oil bottles. Plastic bottles labeled with 3V or PVC is highly hazardous and should be avoided. It discharges 2 toxic chemicals that influence the hormones in body. These type of plastics are rarely recycled.
Number 4 Plastics — LDPE (low density polyethylene)
Low-density polyethylene (LDPE) is a thermoplastic made from petroleum. It can be found translucent or opaque. It is commonly found in squeezable bottles. These plastics does not release any substances or chemicals harmful for our health. Recycling rates of this plastic is low.
Number 5 Plastics — PP (polypropylene)
Polypropylene (PP) is a thermoplastic polymer. It is strong, tough, has a high heat resistance and low moisture intake. It is regarded as one of the “safest” plastics produced today. PP is generally found in squeezable bottles, syrup bottles, ketchup bottles, bottle caps, straws and medicine bottles. This plastic is gradually becoming more accepted by recyclers.
Number 6 Plastics — PS (polystyrene)
Polystyrene (PS) is a petroleum-based plastic. Polystyrene is widely used in packaging materials and insulation. It is commonly found in disposable plates and cups, egg cartons, carry-out containers, aspirin bottles, compact disc cases. This type of plastic is difficult to recycle and also been shown to release dangerous toxins over time into anything packaged in it.
Number 7 Plastics — PC (Polycarbonate) or non-labeled plastic
It is the most dangerous plastic in the food production which releases BPA chemicals and it is often used in the production of 3-5 gallon water bottles and food containers. This plastics have traditionally not been recycled.
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