Considering there are close to 50 billion bottles of water being bought in the United States alone every year, chances are we’ve all drank it before. There are 7 different types of plastic that a bottle can be made of, each corresponding to a number on the bottom of a bottle. And not all of them are safe. Always be aware of what you’re getting into and what’s getting into you!
Plastic Bottle Types
PET or PETE
Known as polyethylene terephthalates, these are single use bottles made to be thrown away after. Repeated use increases the risk of leaching and bacterial growth that leaks off the plastic and into the water. It can also possibly release heavy metals and chemicals that affect hormonal balance.
This plastic is most commonly used in consumer products like most water and pop bottles. It’s difficult to decontaminate, hence why it’s recycled rather than reused.
HDP or HDPE
High-density polyethylene is the best possible plastic to use as it practically releases no chemicals, so it’s considered the safest. It’s recommended the most when looking for bottled water.
It’s a stiff plastic that’s most commonly used for milk jugs, detergent and oil bottles, but is used for water and juice too. It’s the most commonly recycled on the list and the most cost effective, so keep an eye out!
PVC or 3V
Polyvinyl chloride releases two toxic chemicals that affect hormones in your body: DEHP and BPA. They are particularly harmful to children.
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This soft, flexible plastic is used to make clear food wrapping, cooking oil bottles, children’s and pet’s toys. It’s nearly impervious to sunlight and weather, so it’s used a lot for outer parts of buildings too.
Low-density polyethylene is not commonly used in the production of bottles, typically only squeezable ones and plastic bags. It’s considered safe as it doesn’t release any chemicals into water. It’s also found in bread packaging, some clothing and furniture.
Polypropylene is a white colored or semi-transparent plastic that is tough, lightweight, has excellent heat resistance and is a good barrier against moisture. While it can be harmful during production, it hasn’t been found to leak any chemicals in the finished product.
It’s often used for packaging syrups, yogurt cups, cereal bags and potato chip bags, mostly due to its moisture fighting abilities.
Polystyrene can possibly release known carcinogens like benzene, as it’s used in its production. It also contains butadiene and styrene which are suspected carcinogens. One of the most used plastics because it is inexpensive, lightweight and easy to form into a wide variety of uses.
That being said, it’s also difficult to recycle and takes a lot of energy to make. You can find it being used mostly for styrofoam coffee cups, fast food casings and egg cartons.
PC or non-labeled plastic
This one encompasses polycarbonate and pretty much anything else leftover. As a result, it’s the most dangerous in food production as it has the potential to release BPA chemicals, a known endocrine disruptor.
Recycling protocols also aren’t as standardized due to its broad range. It’s commonly used for sports drink bottles, reusable bottles and food containers.
Every plastic bottle will have these numbers listed on them, so before you spend your hard-earned cash make sure you double check. Your best bet at avoiding all of this is to stick with old fashioned tap water that’s been properly filtered and to stick to containers like glass jars instead. Your body and your wallet will thank you for it!
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