In Part 1 of Types of plastic you can find information about the three most used types – PET, HDPE and PVC. The provided information includes the most common uses, the dangers, ways to recycle and, finally, our advice on whether it is safe to use. This post will give similar information on four other relatively wide-spread plastic types.
4. LDPE -Low Density Polyethylene
Similar to HDPE (and also belonging to polyethylene family), this type of plastic is considered one of the safer ones. You can find LDPE in various bags – grocery and garbage bags, frozen food or dry cleaning. Coatings for paper milk cartons and hot & cold beverage cups also contain LDPE rather often. Among the more rare uses are wire and cable covering.
As mentioned above, LDPE is one of the safer plastics, due to the fact that it is relatively stable. However, some studies demonstrated a possibility of leaching estrogenic chemicals (also similar to HDPE). The chances of chemical release increase under the influence of ultraviolet radiation – a.k.a. sunlight.
Recycling of this plastic is rather rare as well, due to the fact that the procedure is expensive and inefficient.
Conclusion: relatively safe.
5. PP – Polypropylene
Polypropylene has similar applications as polyethylenes – mainly food packaging. This plastic is considered to be more heat resistant, therefore, it is used to pack warm food. like takeout meals. Among other uses of PP are yoghurt containers and medication packs.
Due to the high heat resistance PP is unlikely to leach chemicals. Despite that common consideration, at least one study has demonstrated the opposite. The study considered PP in the labware for scientific experiments. Therefore, it is not exactly clear what the release probability is from your everyday yoghurt container.
Polypropylene is often mixed with other resins, therefore, it is difficult to separate and recycle it. Recycling rates are thus very low.
Conclusion: relatively safe. Only one study showed leaching of chemicals, and that only when used in scientific experiments.
6. PS – Polystyrene
Another popular name of polystyrene is Styrofoam. Among the widespread uses are food containers and egg cartons, as well as disposable cups and bowls. Bike helmets and disposable cutlery are among the more rare uses, alongside with house smoke detectors and dvd cases.
Polystyrene is known to leach styrene, which is a human carcinogen. Moreover, it can damage your brain and nervous system. These effects can take place when PS is part of a food container composition. The styrene release becomes more pronounced when PS contacts warm foods, therefore, take-away food packages or coffee-mugs are the worst! Despite that fact polystyrene is often used for these applications exactly. If we still haven’t convinced you, note that styrene is also present in second-hand cigarette smoke.
Recycling rate of PS is very low due to the fact that it is difficult to recycle.
Conclusion: Better to avoid it altogether.
This category does not refer to any plastic in particular. Sometimes it stands for a mix of previously discussed plastics, sometimes – for other compounds, including bioplastics. Very often PC – Polycarbonate is marked with 7, however, that is not exactly correct, since PC is just one example. Without going into too much detail we can advise you to avoid PC, since it leaches bisphenol A (BPA).