Plastic Codes

Avoiding Hormone Disrupters

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Recycling codes stamped on some plastics may help identify unhealthy chemicals, but keep in mind pioneer and leading BPA researcher, Dr Fred Vom Saal at Missouri University, asserts:

"We cannot state there is any safe plastic".

Worst Plastics

  • Type 3: Polyvinyl chloride (PVC)
    • Products
      • Shampoo bottles, food packaging, wire insulator, shower curtains, medical tubing and bags, vinyl upholstery, floor tiles, pipes, Reynolds Wrap and cling wrap for most grocery stores
        • Can pass from packaging into food, water, or cosmetics
        • Can be breathed in from curtains or pipes
    • Contain Phthalates
      • Phthalate give plastic its resilience and flexibility
    • Considered most harmful plastic
  • Type 6: Polystyrene
    • One of the most widely used plastics
    • Two forms of polystyrene: inflated and non-inflated
        • Styrofoam®, a Dow Chemical Company trademarked product
        • meat trays, egg cartons
        • plastic utensils, some takeout containers, cups, bowls, plates
        • plastic models, packaging for shipping.
        • flame retardents
    • May leak styrene, especially when heated
    • Styrene is classified as a possible human carcinogen by the EPA and by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.
    • Polystyrene is not biodegradable
  • Type 7 Polycarbonate (PC), among other plastics
    • Polycarbonates
      • Reusable water bottles, dental sealants, inner lining of food cans
      • Have been used in baby bottles and "sippy" cups for kids
    • Can contain BPA which can leach into food and water

Possibly Better Plastics

  • Type 1: Polyethylene Terephtalate (PET or PETE)
    • Disposable containers for most bottled water, soft drinks, and juice, mouthwash, ketchup, peanut butter, jelly, etc.
    • Avoid reusing #1 bottles and jars because the plastic is porous
      • containers absorb flavors and bacteria that can't be cleaned out
  • Type 2: High Density Polyethylene (HDPE)
    • Cloudy or opaque plastic
    • Milk, water, and juice jugs
    • Bottles for shampoo and detergent
    • Cereal-box liners
    • Additives have not been tested
  • Type 4: Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE)
    • Cling wraps, food storage bags, garbage bags, and grocery bags
    • Squeeze bottles
    • Coatings for milk cartons and hot-beverage cups
    • Burden to enviorment
  • Type 5: Polypropylene (PP)
    • Cloudy or opaque plastic
    • Most Rubbermaid container, cloudy plastic baby bottles, deli soup containers
    • Containers for yogurt, margarine, ketchup and syrup
    • Additive have not been tested
  • Bio-based Polymers (Biodegradable polyester)
    • Derived from renewable resources, such as corn, potatoes, sugar cane.
    • Can be composted in a municipal composter or in a backyard compost pile
    • Healthiest and most eco-friendly choice.

Alternatives

  • Food storage
    • Parchment or waxed paper
    • Glass and ceramic food storage containers
  • On the go
    • Paper plates, bowls, and cups made from sugar cane
    • Bio-plastic utensils made from plant starch
    • Stainless steel insulated storage container for hot foods
    • Stainless steel water bottles or Ball brand canning jar with lid

References

Codes of Concern, Time Magazine (April 1, 2010)

Plastic Planet, Documentary (2009). time stamps 1:10:10 & 1:18:20


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