From cell phones and computers to bicycle helmets and hospital IV bags, plastic has molded society in many ways that make life both easier and safer. Plastics have been with us for more than a century, and by now they’re everywhere, for good and for ill. Plastics are both a boon and a bane for our society. On one hand plastics have helped us in innumerable number of ways and on the other hand are also the biggest source of pollution!!!
In 1988, the Society of the Plastics Industry established a classification for a better way of recycling them. A brief overview of plastics classification is as follows:
PET — Polyethylene Terephthalate is one of the most commonly used and recycled kind of plastics. It is commonly used as beverage bottles, rope, clothing etc.
HDPE – High density Polyethylene products are not known to transmit any chemicals into food items. But it is never safe to reuse such containers unless they originally contained food items. Items made from this plastic include motor oil, shampoos, conditioners, milk containers etc.
PVC — Poly vinyl chlorides are very harmful and are considered carcinogens and should be kept away from food stuffs.They re not often recycled. This kind of plastics is used for all kinds of pipes and tiles, but usually in plumbing pipes.
LDPE — Low density Polyethylene is a very healthy plastic that is usually both durable and flexible. They are usually not recyclable and are the biggest polluters. Items including sandwich bags, grocery bags, cling films and squeezable bottles are made using this type.
PP — Polypropylene is pretty strong and can withstand high temperatures. Most of the times it is not usually recycled. Lunch boxes, margarine containers, bottle caps etc are made using this plastic.
PS – Polystyrene is pretty rigid and has a glassy surface but is affected by fats and solvents. They can be recycled but not very efficiently. Polystyrene products include fast food trays, coat hangers, toys, vending cups and many more.
OTHER – This kind includes a variety of plastics like polycarbonates and polyactides. These types of plastics are pretty hard to recycle and show various properties. They are commonly used for compact discs, baby bottles and medical storage containers.