Packaging Knowledge

The 7 Common Types of Plastics

Use this chart as a quick reference guide whenever you need to know which types of plastics are considered safer. If you can remember that 2, 4 & 5 are considered safe, it will help while shopping.

1. PET: Polyethylene Terephthalate —

This type of plastic is commonly used in water bottles, soda and drink bottles, soap containers, and condiment bottles. Since it’s BPA-free, it’s considered a safer plastic. However, it is a single-use plastic that can degrade and leech toxins like antimony.

2. HDPE: High-Density Polyethylene —

HDPE plastic is used to manufacture things like laundry detergent bottles, packaging for personal care and beauty products, grocery bags, and containers for milk and juice. It’s also considered safe plastic.

3. PVC: Polyvinyl Chloride — 

This is the plastic-type that’s used to make children’s toys, plumbing pipes, some food wrap, and shower curtains. It is not safe, especially when used for cooking or when heated.

PVC is linked to a variety of health issues including hormone disruption.

4. LDPE: Low-Density Polyethylene 

This is another safe plastic. It’s used to make grocery bags, food wraps, bread bags, and other bottles that you can squeeze.

5. PP: Polypropylene —

This is a heat-resistant plastic that’s used to make food containers, food cups, medicine bottles, and kitchen items. It’s considered safe to use because of the heat resistance.

6. PS: Polystyrene —

This is where styrofoam containers come into play. It’s used in a lot of other food packaging as well. PS is considered unsafe, namely because it is not biodegradable and is not sustainable to our environment.

7. All Other Types —

Any plastics that don’t fit into the first 6 categories are grouped into this category. Since there is no way to know exactly what these plastics are made of, they are not considered safe, and it’s best to avoid them at all costs.

Often you will find BPA in category 7.

A Bonus Plastic Type – #8

8. ABS: Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene  —

This is another plastic label you may come across, as it’s used for electronics and even LEGO toys. While it’s generally considered safe and non-toxic, it does have a low melting point and should not be introduced to heat.

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