7 Types of Plastic that You Need to Know
Having knowledge of the different types of plastic is critical to understanding the complexity of recycling, upcycling and the health factors associated with plastic. The first step is to simply know the core basics of the types of plastic that we encounter most, numbered according to their recycling codes. Here’s a short guide:
1) Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET or PETE)
This is one of the most used plastics. It’s lightweight, strong, typically transparent and is often used in food packaging and fabrics (polyester).
Examples: Beverage bottles, Food bottles/jars (salad dressing, peanut butter, honey, etc.) and polyester clothing or rope.
2) High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE)
Classified into three types: High-Density, Low-Density, and Linear Low-Density. High-Density Polyethylene is strong and resistant to moisture and chemicals, which makes it ideal for cartons, containers, pipes, and other building materials.
Examples: Milk cartons, detergent bottles, cereal box liners, toys, buckets, park benches and rigid pipes.
3) Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC or Vinyl)
This hard and rigid plastic is resistant to chemicals and weathering, making it desired for building and construction applications. On the other side, we must note that PVC is the most dangerous plastic to human health, known to leach dangerous toxins throughout its entire lifecycle.
Examples: Plumbing pipes, credit cards, human and pet toys, rain gutters, teething rings, IV fluid bags and medical tubing and oxygen masks.
4) Low-Density Polyethylene (LDPE)
A softer, clearer, and more flexible version of HDPE. It’s often used as a liner inside beverage cartons, and in corrosion-resistant work surfaces and other products.
Examples: Plastic/cling wrap, sandwich and bread bags, bubble wrap, garbage bags, grocery bags and beverage cups.
5) Polypropylene (PP)
This is one of the most durable types of plastic. It is more heat resistant than some others, which makes it ideal for such things as food packaging and food storage which is made to hold hot items or be heated itself. It’s flexible enough to allow for mild bending, but it retains its shape and strength for a long time.
Examples: Straws, bottle caps, prescription bottles, hot food containers, packaging tape, disposable diapers, and DVD/CD boxes.
6) Polystyrene (PS or Styrofoam)
Better known as Styrofoam, this rigid plastic is low-cost and insulates very well, which has made it a staple in the food, packaging and construction industries. Like PVC, polystyrene is a dangerous plastic.
Examples: Cups, takeout food containers, shipping and product packaging, egg cartons, cutlery and building insulation.
This category is a catch-all for other types of plastic that don’t belong in any of the other six categories or are combinations of multiple types. The most important thing here is that these plastics aren’t typically recyclable.
Examples: Eyeglasses, baby and sports bottles, electronics, CD/DVDs, lighting fixtures and clear plastic cutlery.
At The EcoFairy, our goal is to help you build a more sustainable life by offering you a line of reusable products. We offer products that last and that will help you reduce the amount of plastic you use.