Plastics-Which You Should Use?   



Plastics-Which You Should Use?

 
Where will you keep your baked cookies – in red topped plastic container? Do you use plastic water bottles? What do you use to store your leftover foods? No doubt, plastics make our life easier. From chairs, bags, food containers, computers to mobile phones, we are indeed living in a plastic world. They are useful (and ubiquitous), that is for sure.

However, do you really know what are the ingredients used in making plastics and how these (chemical) ingredients could affect our health? Plastic is a synthetic polymer made from petroleum derivatives. Polymer is a large molecule (macromolecule) that is made of a long chain of repeating monomers (basic units) connected by covalent chemical bonds.

Do bear in mind that not all plastics are the same. Some is made to withstand heat and has strong tensile strength. Some are quite flexible to a certain extent. Dangerous petroleum-based chemicals in plastics could leach out due to tear and wear (and even if used for the very first time). The differences in the plastic profiles are based on the types of chemicals used.

So now, how are we supposed to know what the chemicals in your plastic bottles are or how can you know which type is good to be re-used and which plastic bottles you may wash and re-use to your heart’s content?
Do you notice there is a number enclosed within a triangle of three ‘chasing arrows’ printed on the plastic container (bottom, top, side, etc)?

The number is the answer to the question on what materials are used in plastics. This symbol code system for plastics was designed by The Society of the Plastics Industry (SPI) in year 1988 to allow us to differentiate the types of plastic used. The symbols are divided into 7 categories (the cautions we are presenting will be skewed more towards plastic items used for human consumption, e.g.: plastic cling film can leach its chemicals into foods and cause cancer):

1. PETE or PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate)
Applications: Soft drink & mineral water bottle, bread spread jars like peanut butter and jam
Recyclability: Most recyclable!
Caution: Only to be used ONCE! Re-filling it with foods or drinks will be harmful to your health

2. HDPE (High Density Polyethylene)
Applications: Milk, fruit juice and plain water bottles, liquid shampoo & detergent bottles
Recyclability: Most readily recyclable (after 1)
Caution: Low risk of leaching into foods

3. PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)
Applications: Usually for its sturdiness and toughness. Used in plumbing pipe, shower curtains, shampoo and detergent bottles, clear food packaging (cling films), mineral water bottles, clamshell packaging,
Recyclability: Hard to be recycled
Caution: Dangerous – contains carcinogenic chlorine compound!

4. LDPE (Low density polyethylene)
Applications: It is a flexible plastic and used in frozen food storage container, squeezable bottles, produce bags, grocery bags, wrapping films
Recyclability: Hard to be recycled but still can be returned to stores Caution: Generally safe

5. PP (Polypropylene)
Applications: Of high melting point and used in reusable microwave container, kitchen ware, margarine & yogurt containers, bottle caps, drinking straws
Recyclability: Hard to be recycled
Caution: Generally safe

6. PS (Polystyrene)
Applications: Egg cartons, disposable cups, plates, plastic cutlery, take-away food containers
Recyclability: Hard to be recycled
Caution: Contains carcinogenic styrene and BSA (Bisphenol A).
BSA is known to wreck havoc to your hormones and causes cancer (especially breast cancer, prostate cancer, uterine cancer) and mainly affects the reproductive system and body’s growth development.

7. Others –
Applications: Water bottle, baby milk bottles and electrical applications casings
Recyclability: Hardest to be recycled
Caution: This one is purely dangerous as it contain BSA (Bisphenol A) that is known to wreck havoc to your hormones and causes cancer (especially breast cancer, prostate cancer, uterine cancer) and mainly affects the reproductive system and body’s growth development.

Get these:
2. HDPE (High Density Polyethylene)
4. LDPE (Low density polyethylene)
5. PP (Polypropylene)

Use once:
1. PETE or PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate)

Avoid:
3. PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)
6. PS (Polystyrene)
7. Others 

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Happy reading,
Evelyn


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