Types of Plastic

Types of Plastic

One of the questions I get asked the most is: "How can I tell what type of plastic something is made of, and if that plastic is safe?"

Well, the good news is - there is a way to identify the type of plastic in many everyday products, especially food storage containers and packaging. 

Most plastic products have a number called "resin ID code". 

This number is usually surrounded by a chasing arrows symbol, often displayed on the bottom of your plastic . Use of the word "resin" is synonymous with "polymer" or "plastic type."

What do you need to know about these resin ID codes...

  • The codes were developed in the US by the plastics industry to facilitate the recycling process.
  • The codes do not guarantee recyclability! Each country has different recycling rules, check www.mywaste.ie for more info on what is / isn't recycled in Ireland.
  • The codes don't indicate toxicity or safety, they simply identifies the type of plastic resin. 
  • Only 6 plastic types are explicitly identified.  Codes #1 to #6 each identify a specific plastic polymer commonly used in consumer goods all over the world. Code #7 is a general catch-all category which is essentially for every other type of plastic. 

By being aware of this system and these plastic types you will be able to better judge the plastics in your everyday life and the potential risks associated with their use.

In summary... 2, 4 and 5 are OK for limited use but AVOID 1, 3, 6, and 7 (polycarbonate)!

You can check the details on each one of the different types of plastics here.