Know Your Recycling Codes

1 Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET, PETE)


in soft drink bottles, water, beer,
mouthwash, catsup, salad dressing bottles, peanut butter, pickle, jelly, & jam jars, as well as oven-safe plastic trays.
Recycled PET flakes are used for carpet yarns and the fabric known as polyester, polyester fleece, and micro fleece.


PET/PETE degrades with use & can host germs in its wrinkled surfaces, two reasons why re-using old bottles & containers is dangerous. It ontains trace amounts of Bisphenol A (BPA) Click to learn more about this.
The danger increases through use & heating but should be avoided initially as well.

2 High Density Polyethylene (HDPE)


Bottles of milk, juice, water, yogurt & margerine tubs (click for info on margarine), & cereal box liners.
Costmetics, shampoo, dish & landry products
grocery, trash & retail bags.
Has a good chemical resistance.
Can be translucent or pigmented, pigmented bottles have better stress crack resistance.


No known problems for heath; however there is a caustic heating process used to process plastic from petroleum which can not be good for the environment or likely us.

3 Vinyl (Poly Chloride or PVC)


Used in clear food & non-food packaging, & bottles.
in contruction pipes, insulation, write, coatings, medical tubing, etc.
Childrens toys & teethers, costemtics & shower curtains are all used with dangerous plastic softeners, such as phthalates.


Has strong chemical resitance, good weather ability, & stable electrical properties. However it contains chamicals, phthalates.
Chemicals can leach into food & get into peoples bodies by mouthing things, such as babies with their teethers.
Toxic chemicals called adipates & phthalates are used to soften PVC.
Vinyl chloride in PVC is a known human carcinogen.
The European Union (and NOT the U.S.) has banned the use of di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP), most widely used plasticizer (softener) in childrens toys.

4 Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE)


In film applications, flexible lids, & bottles.
Dry cleaning products, bread & brozen food bags, squeezable bottles (ex. Honey, mustard).



5 Polypropylene (PP)


Catsup bottles, yogurt containers, margarine tubs margerine tubs (click for info on margarine), & medicine bottles
Good for hot-fill liquids as it has good chemical resistance & a high melting point.


No known dangers

6 Polystyrene (PS)


Has a low melting point.
Used in protecting packaging, containers, lids, cups, bottles, & trays.
Compact disc jackets, grocery store meat trays, egg cartons, asprin bottles, & plates.


No known dangers

7 Other


3 & 5 Gallon reusable water bottles, some citrus juice & ketchup bottles.
Other uses… check your plastic products.


The most dangerous plastic variation, as it is a multi-layer combination which includes polycarbonate & anything else.
Polycarbonates leach the synthetic hormone BPA (click for more info on BPA).
Problems increase when container is filled with hot liquid or heated up.
However, the dangers are still high even when not heated or used with something hot.


codes 1 (PET/Polyethylene terephthalate)
3 (PVC/Vinyl/Polyvinyl chlorine)
6 (Polystyrene)
7 (Polycarbonate/BPA)

Use minimally:
codes 2 (HDPE/Polyethylene)
4 (LDPE)
5 (Polypropylene)


Why Plastics are Dangerous: Understanding BPA

What is it?

Bisphenol A is a hormone disruptor. Hormone disruptors interfere with the normal functioning of the hormone system of people & wildlife to produce a wide range of adverse effects. These effects include problems with reproductive systems, developmental, & disabilities related to healthy behaviors.

Why is it harmful exactly?

Even low doses of BPA have been linked in studies to have very negative effects on our systems…

In men: increasing prostate weight, making prostate cells more sensitive to hormones & cancer, lowering testosterone, causing hyperactivity & permanent changes in the genital tract.

In women: making breast cells predisposed to cancer, reducing fertility, &
In pregnant women: studies have shown increased risks of cancers and developmental disruptions to the fetus, BPA may also contribute to behavioral problems such as hyperactivity in the unborn child.

Infants, children near puberty are the most at risk to develop harmful effects from BPA. Fetuses are especially sensitive to BPA as they have the most immature detoxification system.

How do get BPA in our system?

BPA is in most polycarbonate plastic food & beverage containers, plastic food wrap, & epoxy resins used to line metal cans for food (including formula).

Recently, the U.S. court has ruled NOT to make BPA illegal, however many companies have responded by choosing to remove BPA from their packaging. Read labels & recycling codes & show consumer support by choosing products that do not contain BPA.Most plastics with the recycling code #7 contain BPA. The simpliest way many people get it in their bodies is from drinking water from a plastic disposable water bottle.

Additionally, most food is packaged in plastic, but it is the liquid that poses the most problems (and especially frozen liquids & even solids).

I was once told in a retail store, when inquiring about BPA free plastics, that BPA only leaches out of plastic when it is heated in the microwave. I also found articles online relating this. This is NOT true. Chemicals such as BPA leach more in the microwave, but they do still significantly leach into drinks or food when at room-temperature, refrigerated, or frozen, especially when we re-use plastic which breaks it down further.

Simple Avoidance in our Diets

We should all make steps to avoid BPA in our diets to protect ourselves, but because of the high risk groups, pregnant women, nursing mothers, infants, & children should be especially mindful to avoid it. If using plastic, do not put it in the microwave as it will break it down & leach the BPA or other chemicals into the food sooner. Avoid drinking soda or juice from cans. Avoid eating vegetables, fruits, & soups from cans. Instead, eat food that is packaged in glass jars, frozen, or fresh. Use a refillable stainless steel water bottle. All of these avoidance steps will not only protect your health but will help you save money.