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What Are the Different Types of Plastic?

Views: 46     Author: Site Editor     Publish Time: 2020-11-09      Origin: Site

What Are the Different Types of Plastic?

Plastic is an essential component of many items, including water bottles, combs, and beverage containers. Knowing the difference, as well as the SPI codes, will help you make more informed decisions about recycling.


The seven types of plastic include:


  • Polyethylene Terephthalate (PETE or PET)

  • High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE)

  • Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)

  • Low-Density Polyethylene (LDPE)

  • Polypropylene (PP)

  • Polystyrene or Styrofoam (PS)

  • Miscellaneous plastics (includes: polycarbonate, polylactide, acrylic, acrylonitrile butadiene, styrene, fiberglass, and nylon)

When it comes to promotional giveaways, and even items we use around the house, there is no material more important than plastic. The same can be said for the items we use at the office. In fact, humans have thus far produced 9.1 billion tons of plastic!


For the sake of the environment, it’s important to know the different plastic types and their uses, as well as the resin identification codes found on each. This will help you make informed decisions when it comes to recycling.


What Are the Different Types of Plastic?

Take a walk through your house or office and you’re guaranteed to stumble across a variety of plastic products. No material is more commonly used in our everyday lives! It’s easy to classify everything as simply "plastic." However, there are 7 types of plastic you should know about.


The full list of plastics includes:


Plastic Number 1 - Polyethylene Terephthalate (PETE or PET)

Introduced by J. Rex Whinfield and James T. Dickson in 1940, this plastic is one of the most commonly used on the planet. Interestingly enough, it took another 30 years before it was used for crystal-clear beverage bottles, such as the ones produced by Coca-Cola and Pepsi.


PETE plastics make up 96% of all plastic bottles and containers in the United States, yet only 25% of these products are recycled. By being mindful and making sure to recycle code 1 plastics, you're helping to ensure a cleaner environment and less landfill pollution!


Plastic Number 2 - High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE)

It was first used for pipes in storm sewers, drains, and culverts. Today, this plastic is used for a wide variety of products.


HDPE is the most commonly recycled plastic because it will not break under exposure to extreme heat or cold. According to the EPA, 12% of all HDPE products created are recycled in a year. This is a very small dent in the planet's carbon footprint.


Plastic Number 3 - Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)

PVC is one of the oldest synthetic materials in industrial production. Also, PVC is one of the least recycled materials; generally less than 1% of PVC plastic is recycled each year. It has been called the "poison plastic" because it contains numerous toxins and is harmful to our health and the environment.


Plastic Number 4 - Low-Density Polyethylene (LDPE)

LDPE was the first polyethylene to be produced, making it the grandfather of the material. It has less mass than HDPE, which is why it's considered a separate material for recycling.


Packaging and containers made from LDPE make up about 56% of all plastic waste, 75% of which comes from residential households. Fortunately, many recycling programs are evolving to handle these products. This means less LDPE will end up in landfills and negatively affect the environment!


Plastic Number 5 - Polypropylene (PP)

Only about 3% of polypropylene products are recycled in the US, but interestingly enough, 325 million pounds of non-bottle plastics were collected for recycling over a year. In other words, a lot of this plastic is created, but only a small fraction is actually recycled.


Plastic Number 6 - Polystyrene or Styrofoam (PS)

Since polystyrene is lightweight and easy to form into plastic materials, it also breaks effortlessly, making it more harmful to the environment. Beaches all over the world are littered with pieces of polystyrene, endangering the health of marine animals. Polystyrene accounts for about 35% of US landfill materials.


Plastic Number 7 - Miscellaneous Plastics

The remaining plastics include: polycarbonate, polylactide, acrylic, acrylonitrile butadiene, styrene, fiberglass, and nylon. Of course, there are many differences in the plastics classified as miscellaneous by recycling programs.


Many BPA products fall into this category, which means it's best to avoid them, especially for food products. It is not very easy to break down these plastics once they are created, unless they are exposed to high temperatures. This means they are nearly impossible to recycle.


So keep these plastic classification numbers in mind, and don't forget to put your newfound knowledge to use—always check a product's classification code prior to recycling it or re-using it. Every small step we take ensures a better tomorrow for our planet!

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