People around the world, as well as here in Albania, re-use these bottles to store oil, milk or honey, leave it in hot cars and then re-use them again. Recycling the same containers is generally considered to be a good practice for those caring about the future of our planet, but not when it comes to plastic water bottles. Do you know which of the plastic products you have at home could be considered generally safe to reuse? Do you know how to recognize what type of plastic your bottles are made from? AgroWeb will attempt to answer these questions below. Take your water bottle right now, turn it upside down, and see the markings on the bottom. Understanding how to distinguish these would most certainly make you a healthier person in a long-run. If the prospect of dangerous compounds entering your body still terrifies you, opt for even better alternative – reusable water bottles.

PET or PETE

Disposable water bottles that we use every day are usually made out of this type of plastic. Polyethylene terephthalate, if re-used, or heated in any way (for example left in the car for too long) could potentially emit dangerous chemical compounds into the liquid, which may in its turn cause hormonal imbalance. PET is the most commonly used type of plastic that should not be re-used under any conditions. PET is recyclable. Generally speaking, if utilized properly, it is considered to be safe.

HDP or HDPE

High-density polyethylene is high quality plastic, which emits practically no harmful elements. Specialists strongly recommend buying water packed in such bottles. It is important to note that this type of plastic is almost fully recyclable and thus is nontoxic from the environmental point of view. It is re-usable and is mostly used for making milk containers, toys, folding chairs, as well as in plastic surgery for facial and skeletal reconstruction, making it one of the safest forms of plastic.

PVC or V

Polyvinyl chloride may release chemicals that are said to harm the reproductive system; however no conclusive studies have proven it. PVC products often contain phthalates though, which are toxic. The production process of such plastic is considered to be environmentally unsafe and in recent years lots of companies made decision to discontinue using products made out of PVC. This is a soft and flexible plastic that is usually used to produce toys (which is banned in many countries), vegetable oil bottles, as well as blister packs, insulation of computer cables, plastic pipes and plumbing supplies. It is resistant to direct sunlight and weather, which is why it is often used for the production of window frames and garden hoses. PVC products are not recyclable.

LDPE

Low-density polyethylene is used in the production of bottles, as well as plastic bags. It does not emit chemicals into the liquid that is being kept in it. However, keeping open products in bags made out of this plastic for extended periods of time may be unsafe. Products made of LDPE are re-usable, but not always recyclable.

PP

Polypropylene is usually white or semi-transparent in color. It is mostly used for producing packaging for syrups and yoghurt. Polypropylene is valued for its thermal stability, it does not melt when heated and is considered to be low in toxicity and is generally safe for consumers to use and re-use.

PS

Polystyrene is mainly used for the production of disposable coffee cups, plastic cutlery and fast food containers. If heated, emits chemical compounds, such as styrene (a possible human carcinogen). This type of plastic is light and cheap, but is actually not designed to keep very hot food or drinks. It does not biodegrade for hundreds of years.

PC or plastic without special markings

Polycarbonate is the most dangerous type of plastic, which is used in the production of water bottles and food containers. These types of plastic may leach BPA Bisphenol A – a chemical compound that if digested in large quantities, can potentially ruin the endocrine system and suppress the natural production of estrogen. It is especially dangerous for fetuses, infants and young children. To sum up, plastic of types 1, 2, 4 and 5 are safer alternatives, if utilized properly (although more research is still to be conducted), whereas type 3, 6, 7 should be avoided./AgroWeb.org