Know Your Plastics

March 27, 2018

Have you ever noticed the signs above on the plastic that you consumed? Do you know that, there are many kinds of plastics and not all can be recycled?



#1 Polyethylene Terephthalate PET - To be recycled not reused

This is the most commonly used plastics in consumer products. It is mostly found in water and pop bottles. It is intended for single use applications, and repeated use increase the risk of leaching and bacterial growth. PET plastic is recyclable. The recycled fiber can be used to make textiles like fleece garments, carpets, stuffing for pillows etc.


#2 High-density Polyethylene HDPE - Reusable and recyclable

HDPE is the stiff plastic used to make milk jugs, detergent, oil bottles, toys and some plastic bags. It’s considered to be one of the safest forms of plastic. In fact, it is relatively simple and cost-effective to recycle HDPE plastic. They can be recycled to make picnic tables and waste bins.


#3 Polyvinyl Chloride PVC - Not recyclable, should not reuse for children’s use

PVC is soft and flexible. They are used to make plastic food wrapping for example. It is also relatively impervious to sunlight and water, it can be used to make window frames and garden hoses. However, it contains numerous toxins which it can leach throughout its entire life cycle. Less than 1% PVC is recycled.


#4 Low-density Polyethylene LDPE - Reusable, not always recyclable

This type of plastic can be found in shrink wraps or plastic bags. They are relatively safe to use, but not commonly recycled.


#5 Polypropylene PP - Reusable, limitation on recycling

PP has excellent heat resistance, that serves as a barrier against moisture, grease and chemicals. They are commonly used for disposable diapers, plastic bottle tops and straws. It is safe for reused. Only limited recyclers accept PP.


#6 Polystyrene PS - Avoid using!

PS is lightweight and easily-formed plastic. They are often used to make disposable drinking cups and takeout boxes. PS breaks up easily and is dispersed throughout the natural environment. Untold number of marine species have ingested this plastic with horrible consequences to their health. PS may leach styrene, a possible human carcinogen into food products. It has negative links to human health and reproductive system. Unfortunately, recycling is not widely available for PS. This type of plastic should be avoided in general.


#7 BPA, Polycarbonate and LEXAN (Other)

Reuse and recycling protocols are not standardized in this category. The key concern is the potential chemical leaching into food or drink products using BPA. A new generation of compostable plastics made from bio-based polymers like corn starch is developed to replace polycarbonate. However, they are also #7 but marked PLA.


Guys, check your plastic code, you cannot recycle #3 & #7 in HK!



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