Have you noticed the numbers engraved on the bottom of plastic bottles? You can also find them on detergents and other similar products. Do you know what they mean?
Actually, they are symbols that determine the type of plastic to determine how it is recycled.
All plastic containers are coded with a number inside a triangle formed with arrows which is the international symbol for recycling, and they vary.
How to recycle a plastic bottle?
The first thing you have to do is to rinse and clean the bottle of whatever it has inside.
Then you have to remove any paper or plastic stuck to the bottle.
Separate the cap and thread, if it has one, from the bottle.
Crush the bottle to remove as much air as possible.
At several recycling points, the caps go in a different container than the bottles. Look at the classification of the recycling centers to know where to deposit each plastic.
1. PET or PETE (Polyethylene terephthalate)
This is the typical plastic used in food and beverage containers, thanks to the fact that it is light, inexpensive, and recyclable. Once recycled, PET can be used in furniture, carpets, textile fibers, car parts, and, occasionally, in new food packaging.
2. HDPE (High-Density Polyethylene)
Thanks to its versatility and chemical resistance, it is mainly used in packaging, household cleaning products, or industrial chemicals, such as bottles of shampoo, detergent, chlorine, etc. It is also used in milk, juice, yogurt, water, garbage, and supermarket bags.
3. V or PVC (Vinyl or Polyvinyl Chloride)
It is also very resistant, so it is widely used in window cleaners, detergent bottles, shampoo, oils and hoses, medical equipment, windows, drainage pipes, construction materials, cable sheathing, etc.
4. LDPE (Low-Density Polyethylene)
This strong, flexible, and transparent plastic can be found in some very diverse bottles and bags (shopping or frozen food, bread, etc.), some furniture, and carpets, among others.
5. PP (Polypropylene)
Its high melting point allows containers capable of holding liquids and hot food. It is used in the manufacture of medical containers, yogurts, straws, ketchup bottles, lids, some kitchen containers, etc.
6. PS (Polystyrene)
Used in disposable plates and cups, egg cups, meat trays, aspirin containers, CD cases, etc. Its low melting point allows it to melt in contact with heat.
This includes a wide variety of plastics that are very difficult to recycle. These materials are used to make some types of water bottles, bullet-proof materials, DVDs, sunglasses, MP3 players and PCs, certain food packaging, etc.
Although it is explicit in each container, we are not aware of the damage we are causing, for example, to our planet with marine pollution, leading to the obstruction of the digestive tract of large marine animals.
Or even worse to our own health, being plastic is the major precursor of cancer, a hormone disruptor, an accelerator of mental illnesses such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and Depression, and many more problems. It is time to generate responsible consumption habits that will allow us to ensure a future for generations to come.
Which plastic bottles can be reused?
A widespread custom is to reuse plastic water bottles. Whether for recycling, for saving money, or for practicality, the truth is that many of us use these bottles. And around this habit, there are many stories about the dangers of reusing plastic bottles. And doubts arise, is it possible or not?
It is possible depending on the material they are made of. Because although everything is plastic, it can come from different sources. And how can I know? It is very simple; in each bottle, there is a drawing of a triangle of arrows with a number inside. That number is not the number of times it can be reused or refilled, as many people think, but indicates the material from which the container is made. What types of materials are there?