Types of plastics according to labeling: we recycle plastics wisely
About 30 years ago, our environment was not as filled with plastic products as it is today. And by 2030-50. an increase in the volume of its production by 30% is forecasted. On the one hand, it benefits the whole chain of plastics and oil companies. On the other hand, plastic has become a part of our everyday life, thanks to its properties that distinguish it favorably from products made of metal, wood or glass. This is comparative cheapness, and lightness, and practicality, and the possibility of obtaining such a variety of forms. And also to some extent environmentally friendly, as it saves the forest from cutting down and other natural materials from overspending. But using plastic products for a number of advantages, don’t forget about the two biggest disadvantages. This is not the environmental friendliness of plastic, in other words, its toxicity, the release of a number of mega hazardous substances into the environment (read our previous article). And the relatively short service life of products, when the scale of plastic landfills is expanding every year and an increasing amount of toxins from the decomposition of plastic gets into the environment, and over time to our table and into our body. Many people who know how to see the chain of events are not satisfied with such prospects and people start looking for alternatives.
In this article we will go through the main types of plastic, there are only seven of them and the manufacturer is obliged to label their products to show how dangerous this type of plastic is for health. Although, to be honest, not everyone adheres to this rule, which once again confirms the need to look for a replacement for plastic products.
Some types of plastic products can be used no more than once, since when they are used repeatedly, they begin to release toxic substances. Other types of plastics themselves are safe and do not get into food, however, if the rules of operation are violated (washing, heating, repeated use), they release toxins that can gradually accumulate in the human body: kidneys, liver, brain, reproductive system and cause certain harm to health … You also need to understand that plastics are subject to aging and over time they begin to release their decay products, toxic substances. Here are some examples of the misuse of plastic products:
– warming up containers that do not correspond to the required marking in the microwave;
– products are stored in the refrigerator for a long time;
– the use of plastic products for hot drinks or food;
– drinking alcohol from plastic containers. which is not intended for alcohol and reacts with it.
Therefore, you need to understand the types of plastic so as not to harm your health. Better yet, use less harmful counterparts. After all, mainly what we are willing to pay money for is produced and bought.
International markings have been designed to facilitate the process of sorting and presenting information to the user. For some of the plastic products of our choice, we have written eco-friendly counterparts that can be used today, as many people do.
How to properly dispose of plastic
1 – PET (E) or PET – polyethylene terephthalate
The most common type of plastic.
Packed in it:
- water, lemonade, juices;
- milk, kefir, yogurt and other fermented milk drinks;
- vegetable oil,
- ketchup, mayonnaise and other ready-made sauces (natural analogues can be prepared at home),
- packing containers,
- disposable cups,
- spices and other bulk products (you can buy them in your own container),
- cosmetics (you can use natural cosmetics),
- upholstery materials,
Suitable for single use only, although some people manage to use water bottles as long as the bottle is usable. With PET bottles. used to dispense beverages and oils, you need to be extremely careful, as PET plastic should not be placed in direct sunlight. Under their influence, plastic begins to release toxins, even if you use the bottle once.
The very structure of such plastic is porous, in the pores of which bacteria can multiply, therefore, with repeated intake of the drink, it is possible to drink it along with the bacteria.
Recycling is accepted wherever there is a separate collection of garbage. The exception is vegetable oil bottles – the oil penetrates into the plastic and makes it impossible to produce recyclable materials from it.
Can be used only once: when reused, it releases phthalate – a toxic substance that negatively affects the liver, kidneys, reproductive organs, endocrine and nervous systems.
2 – PEHD (HDPE) or HDPE – high density polyethylene
Hard or foil.
They make from it:
- rustling bags (fabric or other natural bags can be used instead),
- bottles for juice, kefir, milk, yogurt, etc.;
- disposable tableware,
- caps for plastic bottles,
- food containers,
- bottles for cosmetics (shampoos, shower gels, liquid soap, etc.),
- containers for detergents and household chemicals,
- sanitary pads – top, bottom layer and packaging,
- cans and packaging for fuels and lubricants,
- buckets and basins,
- kids toys.
Recycling is accepted wherever there is a separate collection of garbage.
Can be used multiple times. But there is also an invisible evil – it is capable of releasing formaldehyde when heated – a colorless gas that negatively affects the respiratory system, skin and nervous system, as well as the reproductive system, can cause genetic disorders in offspring).
3 – PVC or PVC – polyvinyl chloride
They make from it:
- food containers and cling film (wax napkins can be used instead),
- Kids toys,
- plastic windows,
- stretch ceiling,
- details for furniture,
- tablecloths and curtains for the bathroom,
- floor coverings, linoleum and artificial leather,
- garden furniture,
- containers for technical liquids.
Do not accept for processing, as it releases carcinogenic substances when burned. AVOID. Contraindicated for food, but still used. For other purposes, it can be reused.
When PVC “ages”, they emit carcinogenic formaldehyde and vinyl chloride.
Invisible evil: bisphenol A, vinyl chloride, phthalates, and possibly cadmium. One of the most dangerous types of plastics. When burned, it releases dioxin – a highly toxic substance that negatively affects the reproductive and immune systems, causes hormonal disorders and cancer.
4 – LDPE or PEBD – low density polyethylene
They make from it:
- almost all bags, including trash bags (instead of bags, you can take a string bag or any other fabric handbag),
- cling film
- bags for detergents and washing powder,
- bags for frozen vegetables and semi-finished products,
- part of the packaging for household appliances.
They are accepted for recycling, but not everywhere – check with your garbage collection operator (call center phones are usually indicated on the bins and are definitely on the Internet).
Can be used multiple times.
Almost harmless for food packaging (the most harmless), but when heated and decomposed, it releases formaldehyde.
Recycling of rubber products without harming the environment
5 – PP – polypropylene
They make from it:
- cups for sour cream, yoghurt, ice cream,
- packaging for chocolates,
- bags for bread and cereals,
- baby pacifiers, diapers,
- packaging for baby food and hygiene products,
- sanitary pads (top layer),
- food containers,
- straws for drinks,
- jars for pills,
- Kids toys,
- refrigerator trays
- parts for the car (headlights, bumpers),
- water pipes.
It is accepted for processing, but not everywhere, its processing is more difficult than plastic labeled 1 and 2.
Can be used multiple times. A distinctive disadvantage is that at low temperatures it becomes brittle and breaks. Almost harmless, but when heated and decomposed, releases formaldehyde.
6 – PS – polystyrene
They make from it:
- opaque disposable spoons, forks and knives;
- cups for yogurt,
- foamed substrates for cuts, meat, vegetables and fruits;
- packaging for eggs,
- boxes for vegetables and fruits,
- sandwich panels and thermal insulation boards, polystyrene – the same polystyrene,
- audio cassettes and CD boxes,
- Kids toys.
They accept for processing, but not everywhere. Avoid. Or check with your operator. It is recommended to use it only once, a rather insidious material. With repeated use or even not high heating temperatures (before it begins to melt), as well as in contact with some products, it releases styrene, which negatively affects the function of the liver and kidneys, the circulatory and nervous systems. It is not advisable to use it for processing, since in recyclable materials the carcinogenic properties of styrene – a volatile compound that comes into contact with liquids (acetone, alcohols, organic acids), begin to appear. Gives off carcinogenic substances during combustion.
Equipment for the processing of plastics, polymers of any type of marking
7 – O or OTHER means that the plastic is made from a different mixture of polymers.
Literally: polycarbonate, polyamide and other types of plastics.
They make from it:
- baby bottles,
- transparent disposable spoons, forks and knives,
- reusable water bottles,
- cooler bottles,
- children’s toys (alternatively, children are very fond of toys made of wood and other natural materials),
- “Biodegradable” plastic,
- tubes for toothpaste (toothpaste in a recyclable container works well with this problem),
- inner layer for metal cans,
- bags (sleeves) for baking,
- CD and DVD,
- combined packaging.
They are not accepted for processing. Avoid. Can be used several times, but remember that after frequent washing or heating, it releases bisphenol A or luorene-9-bisphenol (BHPF), which negatively affects the brain, reproductive and endocrine systems.
How do you choose the lesser of all evils?
Safe for hot food is polypropylene (PP – № 5) – lids for glasses with coffee / tea, dishes are made of it. Polypropylene can withstand temperatures up to 150 degrees Celsius, but it is categorically impossible to pour alcohol with it, which will immediately interact with the walls of the vessel.
To store food in plastic containers in the refrigerator, polyethylene (HDPE – № 2) is best. It is suitable for storing most foods, but butter or margarine cannot be stored in it, as polyethylene is not grease resistant.
For those who like to use reusable bottles, it is recommended to opt for products with the number 2. At the same time, we want to draw your attention to the fact that the reusable bottle was made specifically for water / juice, and therefore pouring hot drinks or alcohol there is dangerous for your health.
It is clear that the dose of chemicals will not be critical for you in the event of a one-time violation of the operating conditions of a certain type of plastic, however, these harmful substances will accumulate in the kidneys, liver and, over time, can cause serious illness.
Summing up all of the above, we can conclude that plastic is a rather dangerous material and, perhaps, we do not know all the pitfalls associated with its use. Therefore, despite the fact that it is planned to increase its production by a third by 2050, in our age of conscious thinking, we understand how dangerous it is. Read our previous article about the Most Dangerous Product at the beginning of the 21st century and the consequences for the environment and health of all mankind from every used and discarded plastic bottle, from every plastic product produced – Plastic is inside us.
One of the main problems associated with the large-scale production of plastic is the impossibility of its disposal and, as a result, the growth of landfills, environmental pollution, including those released by carcinogens during the decomposition of plastic.
However, modern technologies at the moment already allow to process any kind of plastic without harm to the ecology and health of all mankind. Therefore, ask us your questions about such technologies, since we have more than 20 years of experience in the development, launch, commissioning of equipment for the processing of polymers of any type of marking and rubber-technical products, as well as training and certification of personnel.
During the operation of our equipment, all harmful carcinogenic substances are burned inside and do not enter the atmosphere. You can also recycle oil bottles on such equipment. During carbonization, thermal energy is released, which can be used both for the needs of the production itself, and for heating nearby houses, power supply of industries.
The output and composition of marketable products depends mainly on the method of conducting the process and the composition of the raw materials subjected to carbonization. For polymers and rubber goods, it is usually:
- Liquid hydrocarbon fractions = 30-40%
- Carbon residue = 30-35%
- Synthesis gas = 10-15%
Thus, thanks to modern technologies for the processing of rubber goods and polymers, it is possible to dispose of almost all the waste on the planet. Read our next article – what problems humanity has already faced with garbage disposal. Is there a way out of this situation?