What do these numeric symbols look like?
|Numeric symbols found on the bottom of plastic containers|
|SPI Resin Identification Code||1||2||3||4||5||6||7|
|Type of Resin Content||PET||HDPE||Vinyl||LDPE||PP||PS||OTHER|
The Learning Channel actually put together a very easy to understand explanation of the different codes:
"#1 - PET or PETE: polyethylene terephthalate is used in many soft drink, water, and juice bottles. It's easily recycled, doesn't leach, and accepted by most curbside municipal programs and just about all plastic recycling centers.
#2 - HDPE: high-density polyethylene is used in milk jugs, detergent and shampoo bottles, and, because it hasn't been found to leach, will replace polycarbonate in a new Nalgene bottle (more on that in a sec). It has also has not been found to leach, and is widely accepted and easily recycled.
#3 - PVC: Vinyl or polyvinyl chloride is a bad, bad plastic. Soft PVC often contains and can leach toxic phthalates, and can also off-gas chemicals into the air. It's used in some cling wraps (yikes!), many children's toys, fashion accessories, shower curtains, and detergent and spray bottles. To top it off, PVC isn't recyclable, either.
#4 - LDPE: low-density polyethylene is used most plastic shopping bags, some cling wraps, some baby bottles and reusable drink & food containers. It hasn't been found to leach, and is recyclable at most recycling centers (and many grocery stores take the shopping bags) but generally not in curbside programs.
#5 - PP: polypropylene can be found in some baby bottles, lots of yogurt and deli takeout containers, and many reusable food and drink containers (you know, the Tupperware- and Rubbermaid-types). It hasn't been found to leach, and is recyclable in some curbside programs and most recycling centers.
#6 - PS: polystyrene is used in takeout food containers, egg containers, and some plastic cutlery, among other things. It has been found to leach styrene--a neurotoxin and possible human carcinogen--and has been banned in cities like Portland, Ore. and San Francisco. Still, it persists and is not often recyclable in curbside programs, though some recycling centers will take it.
#7 - Everything else, and this is where the waters get a bit murky. First, and perhaps most notably, #7 includes PC, or polycarbonate, which has been making headlines lately because it's used in Nalgene's reusable water bottles and has been found to leach bisphenol A, a hormone disruptor that mimics estrogen; as such, Nalgene is switching to HDPE, a less harmful plastic."
The following "smart plastics guide" is an easy to print up .pdf file that you can hang on your refrigerator for reference before heading out to recycle your plastic.
After reading about the different identification codes, I became nervous whenever I saw a product labeled with a #3, #6 and #7. I actively began using less plastic when it came to food preparation and storage. I especially began to rethink heating any food in any plastic containers. It is during high heat that many plastics can "leach" onto food. I started using more glass containers and began throwing out containers that had any of those three codes. I am also more aware when I go out to eat to look for restaurants reheating food covered in plastic wrap. Rather than using plastic wrap, I now use a glass plate as a "cover" when reheating something. There are so many alternatives to plastic these days that I would rather change my behavior than risk something happening to my children.