I have been worrying about all the plastics in my environment, and warning everyone I can about the hazards of plastics leeching into any foodstuff with oil. Why ? Because plastics create pseudo- oestrogens in our bodies, and my cancer is very sensitive to oestrogen. I don't want anyone I know to develop cancer because I failed to pass on my concerns. But it has struck me that I don't know what I'm talking about really. I just blanket all plastics together. And doing that makes for a lot of worry. I'm not saying those worries are unfounded, and I will continue to avoid it as much as possible , but it's impossible to eliminate it completely without leaving the planet earth, so I've done some research. Up to present, I've been overwhelmed by all the plastic that makes up my world and whilst I've known there are different types, it has been easiest for me to blanket them all together. But the time has come to face my fears and find out which are the better choices, and which are the worst. I can't do anything about their existence, or what they are used for. If I don't want my hummus wrapped in a little plastic pot from the supermarket I'll have to make it myself. But information is power and I'm going to arm myself as well as I can. Not all plastics are identifiable as anything other than plastic, or manmade material. But there are ways to identify some of them.
Hard plastic containers generally, though not always, have a code on the bottom - a number surrounded by a triangle of chasing arrows. This number is a resin identification number, and it's there due to consumer demand for some way of sorting the plastic waste for recycling. It was introduced in 1988 when the Society of Plastic Industry Inc. agreed to a voluntary coding system.
What the codes mean :-
1. POLYETHYLENE TEREPHHTHALATE (PET , PETE )
Designed for a single use only. Extended use increases the risk of leaching ( dissolves into whatever it contains ) and bacteria growth.
Uses - plastic bottles for soft drinks, water, juice, sports drinks, beer, mouthwash, salad dressings, vegetable oil and ketchup. food jars, ovenable film, microwaveable food trays, boil- in- the- bags, and oven safe food trays. cosmetic containers, textiles, monofilament, carpet strapping, and engineering mouldings.
It can be recycled and then be used for fibre, tote bags, clothing and polar fleece, food and drink containers, carpet, luggage, bean bags, rope, car bumpers, boat sails and furniture.
2. HIGH DENSITY POLYETHYLENE ( HDPE )
Appears to be safe. More stable than PET and safer from hormone-like chemicals.
Uses - milk, water and juice containers, yoghurt and margarine pots and tubs, cosmetic containers, shampoo, household cleaners, and laundry detergent bottles, cereal box liners, grocery, rubbish and retail bags.
It can be recycled into liquid laundry detergent, shampoo and conditioner bottles, motor oil bottles, pipe, buckets, crates, flower pots, garden edging, recycling bins, plastic lumber , floor tiles, fencing pens and white contamination suits.
3. VINYL (POLYVINYL CHLORIDE or PVC )
Avoid this plastic. It contains many dangerous toxins, and is nicknamed the poison plastic. Toxic additives and stabilizers such as lead and plasticisers contribute to the problem when they break down. Contains BPA and pthalates as well as DEHA (di(2-ethylhexyl)adipate) which is linked to liver cancer. DEHA in cling film leaches into oily foods on contact. It releases dioxins in manufacture and as it ages and weathers.
Uses - clear food and non-food packaging, shrink wrap, deli and meat wrap, medical tubing, blood bags, shampoo bottles, wire and cable insulation, construction products like pipes, fittings, windows, carpet backing, synthetic leather, shower curtains, dashboards, outdoor furniture and in plumbing.
this is the least recyclable plastic , but can be used in packaging, gutters, mud flaps, flooring, electrical boxes and cables , traffic cones, garden hose, and decking.
Recycling uses more energy than producing the new product. However, when used, products include rubbish bags and bins, compost bins, floor tiles, furniture, lumber and landscape timber, and shipping envelopes.
recycling rate - >1%
Appears to be safe.
Uses - yoghurt pots and margarine tubs, cereal box liners, straws, crisp bags, syrup and condiment squeeze bottles, takeout meal and deli food containers, medicine bottles, bottle caps and closures, automotive parts, packing tape, tupperware, and new BPA-free baby bottles. It has a high melting point which makes it good for containing hot liquids.
recycled products include brooms, brushes, ice scrapers, oil funnels, rakes, bike racks, car battery cases, battery cables, rakes, bins and pallets.
recycle rate - 3%
6. POLYSTYRENE ( PS )
In Conclusion, and on a personal note I really can't comprehend the amount of plastic that is polluting our environment. You can see from the figures above that much cannot be recycled, and that any is recycled acts in just the same way as any plastic when it gets old and unwanted. It's like some alien being, polluting and poisoning us, which just keeps reproducing - and like a cancer ( !!! ) - it doesn't die ! It doesn't break down. It has a different life cycle entirely. It's the stuff of science fiction and horror stories. Every time we buy the stuff we are voting with our wallets for more. Let us as buyers beware . Do we really want to be ingesting this stuff ? And do we honestly think there will be no consequences in putting inorganic substances into our organic bodies ? Would anyone honestly want to drink the petrol that we put in our cars in preference to the food we grow in our gardens ? Because in effect we are taking our meat and two veg with a side order of plastics and petroleum. The lunatics have truly taken over the asylum .