Are you wondering what those numbers stamped at the bottom of most plastic bottles and containers are? Well, they’re called Resin Identification Code (RIC), which was introduced by the Society of Plastics Industry (SPI) back in 1988. Primarily, the RIC system came into being for recycling purposes. However, it may also be used by consumers as a guide for making smarter health choices — although it is still recommendable for you to steer clear of bottles and containers that are out of plastic for your utmost peace of mind.
So without further ado, let us tackle what those numbers really mean:
PET or PETE
PET or PETE stands for polyethylene terephthalate. Thin and clear, this type of plastic is commonly employed for making bottles for soda, water and cooking oil. According to experts, plastic bottles and containers stamped with 1 are probably safe for single use. Do take note that you should refrain from reusing or reheating them. By the way, PET or PETE items can be recycled one time only, usually into plastic lumber, synthetic fabrics and carpets.
Short for high density polyethylene, you will notice that bottles and containers out of such material are thick and opaque. Commonly, plastics bearing 2 at their bottoms are used as milk jugs, juice bottles, and containers for shampoos and detergents. There are also a bunch of toys that are out of HDPE. Generally safe as it is said to leach less likely, bottles and containers stamped with 2 can be recycled into a lot of things, from pens to plastic fences and benches.
PVC or V
PVC or V stands for vinyl, which is a very popular material of choice for manufacturing windows, pipes, floor and wall paneling, and many others. You can also come across plastic bottles and containers out of such material, like those that are used for containing cooking oils and shampoos. Experts say that you should refrain from reusing or reheating PVC as it may leach chemicals that can have negative effects on the reproductive health as well as on the liver.
You will surely find a lot of bottles and containers out plastic with 2 placed at their bottoms. Shopping bags, food wraps, squeezable bottles — many of these are out of low density polyethylene (LDPE) which is a soft and flexible material. It is also found in clothes out of synthetic fabrics. Plastic bottles and containers with 4 on them are considered as generally safe for you, and it is a good idea to have them reused in order to do your share in saving the environment.
Hard but somewhat flexible, polypropylene or PP is usually the material of choice for the production of straws, syrup bottles, and containers for yogurt and ice cream. Diapers are also commonly made out of it. According to experts, plastics with 5 stamped on them are some of the safest for human use. By the way, PP bottles and containers are usually recycled into signal lights, car battery cases, ice scrapers, brooms, pallets and garbage bins.
PS stands for polystyrene — yes, it’s the material that many refer to as styrofoam! As you may already know by now, this material is very challenging to recycle. In other words, it is bad for the planet so you should limit its usage. Especially when heated or burned, containers out of polystyrene leach or emit harmful chemicals. CD cases, meat trays, egg cartons, coffee cups, disposable plates, and plastic spoons and forks (opaque ones) are out of polystyrene.
Plastic bottles or containers that do not belong to the previously-discussed categories fall under this. Usually, they are out of different materials, one of which is bisphenol-A or BPA. Experts say that BPA may cause hormonal imbalance, which may lead to a number of health problems. Bullet-proof materials, sunglasses, and cases of some gadgets fall under this category, and they can be recycled into plastic lumber as well as other customizable products.