The 7 types of plastics: their toxicity and what they are most commonly used for (2023)

Plastic is used to make many of the products we use every day, from the containers our food and medicine are packaged in to eyewear, toys, car parts and household items. But with plastic toxicity becoming a growing concern, how safe are the plastic products we use all the time?

This table examines the many products commonly made from seven different types of plastic and the properties that set them apart. It also takes a close look at the toxicity of each of the seven types of plastic to determine which are the safest and which should be avoided at all costs.

What are the 7 types of plastic?

  • #1: polyethylene terephthalate (PET or PETE)
  • No. 2: High Density Polyethylene (HDPE)
  • #3: Polyvinyl chloride (PVC)
  • No. 4: Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE)
  • #5: Polypropylene (PP)
  • No. 6: Polystyrene (PS)
  • No. 7: Other

#1: polyethylene terephthalate (PET or PETE)

Polyethylene terephthalate is the most widely used plastic in the world. It is a good barrier against gases and moisture, as it prevents the entry of oxygen and carbon dioxide, and is mainly used to pack food and beverages. Containers made from this type of plastic can be difficult to clean and the higher temperatures can cause toxins to be released, so it is recommended to do not reuseProducts made from PET.

Polyethylene terephthalate is commonly used to make:

  • soda bottles
  • water bottles
  • beer bottles
  • salad dressing bottles
  • peanut butter jars
  • jam jars
  • Corda
  • phrases
  • canvas bags
  • medicine bottles
  • fibers for clothing and carpets
  • ready meals and baking bags
  • A few bottles of shampoo and mouthwash

PET is the most commonly recycled plastic. Although it should not be reused, it can be recycled for:

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  • wool clothes
  • wallpaper
  • Stuffing pillows, winter coats and sleeping bags
  • bean bags
  • storage container
  • Corda
  • bumper
  • felt tennis ball
  • phrases
  • little houses
  • sails for boats
  • Furniture
  • other plastic bottles

No. 2: High Density Polyethylene (HDPE)

High-density polyethylene is considered one of the safest types of plastic and also the most commonly recycled. It is an excellent moisture barrier with excellent chemical resistance and is a more stable form of plastic than PET. While considered to be a safer option for food and drink, it is never safe to reuse HDPE plastic for food or drink if it did not originally contain either.

High density polyethylene is commonly used to make:

  • milk jug
  • Non-carbonated drinking bottles
  • engine oil container
  • Shampoo and conditioner bottles
  • soap bottles
  • detergent bottles
  • bleach bottles
  • the lunch box
  • Cereal box liners
  • toys
  • Bucket
  • rigid tubes
  • boxes
  • pots
  • outdoor furniture
  • trash cans and compost bins
  • Park Bench
  • truck bed liners

HDPE is the most commonly recycled plastic and can be reused. Can be recycled to:

  • plastic bottles and jars
  • plastic wood
  • outdoor furniture
  • playground equipment
  • Fencing
  • Corda
  • toys

#3: Polyvinyl chloride (PVC)

Polyvinyl chloride is a rigid plastic known for its long-term stability, good weatherability and chemical resistance. These properties make it a good choice for household products such as pipe, framing, guttering, and more. PVC is known to release toxins throughout its lifecycle, making it one of the most toxic plastics.

Polyvinyl chloride is commonly used to make:

  • plumbing pipes
  • credit cards
  • carpet lining
  • piso
  • door and window frames
  • storm drain
  • tubes and fittings
  • wire and cable coating
  • artificial leather products
  • clear plastic food containers
  • cooking oil bottles
  • Beißringe
  • toys for children and pets
  • garden hoses

Almost all products that use PVC require a new material for their manufacture; Less than 1% of PVC material is recycled. Specialized programs recycle PVC and use it to:

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  • piso
  • disguise
  • roadside ravines
  • lead cone
  • credit cards
  • Sugar cane

No. 4: Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE)

Low Density Polyethylene's ability to be strong and flexible while acting as a good moisture barrier makes it an excellent choice for food storage products such as bags, containers, bottles and plastic packaging. LDPE is considered one of the least toxic plastics and can be reused for food products.

Low density polyethylene is commonly used to make:

  • plastic film
  • sandwich bags
  • Warm
  • Squeeze Bottles
  • plastic bags
  • trash bags
  • food storage containers and lids
  • bubble wrap
  • irrigation tubes
  • big shopping bags
  • wire and cable coverage
  • Paper milk carton liners
  • Cups for hot and cold drinks

LDPE is difficult to recycle, although more and more plastic recycling programs are gearing up to handle this material. In recycling, LDPE is used for:

  • plastic wood
  • trash
  • Trash
  • tiles

#5: Polypropylene (PP)

Polypropylene is a tough yet flexible plastic with a high melting point and excellent chemical resistance. These properties make it one of the safest plastic options for food and drink at higher temperatures.

Polypropylene (PP) is commonly used to make:

  • prescription bottles
  • most bottle caps
  • Ketchup and syrup bottles
  • Containers for yogurt and margarine
  • chips bags
  • straws
  • articulated lunch boxes
  • fabric/carpet fibers
  • heavy bags
  • hot food containers
  • Scotch tape
  • Thermowesten
  • auto parts
  • disposable diapers
  • sanitary towels

Polypropylene is commonly recycled and can be used for:


  • boat oars
  • Housing for car batteries.
  • Broom
  • visors
  • sprinklers
  • mixing bowls
  • chopping boards
  • Eiskratzer
  • reservoir

No. 6: Polystyrene (PS)

Polystyrene, commonly known as Styrofoam, is a rigid plastic that often foams and can be brittle. It is a highly toxic plastic that is attacked by fats, solvents and heat and should not be used for greasy or hot foods and drinks.

Polystyrene (PS) is commonly used to make:

  • disposable foam cup
  • takeaway food containers
  • plastic cutlery
  • egg box
  • fast food trays
  • video cases
  • seed trays
  • percha
  • cheap and brittle toy
  • Schaumverpackung (peanut packaging)
  • hard foam insulation
  • Skirting boards for laminate flooring

Styrofoam can be recycled, but it is difficult and recycling programs are not widespread. When recycled, it is used for:

  • little houses
  • hard foam insulation
  • egg box
  • Marco
  • Pay
  • home decor products
  • protective foam packaging

No. 7: Other

This category of plastics is a collective term for other types of plastic resins that do not belong to any of the other six categories or a combination of these plastics. Some of the plastics in this category include polycarbonate, acrylic, fiberglass, nylon and styrene acrylonitrile. This category also includes a new type of plastic,Polymilchsäure(PLA), a bioplastic that is not recyclable but compostable.

Plastics in this category are commonly used to make:

  • baby bottles
  • get ready to drink mugs
  • Large multi-gallon water bottles
  • medical storage containers
  • Cups
  • outdoor lights
  • metal tin liners
  • CD e DVD
  • dental sealants

Items made from #7 plastic are combinations of different plastics and are difficult to recycle, but some can be recycled into plastic lumber and specialty products. Products marked #7 with “PLA” must be composted rather than recycled.

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Which plastics are toxic?

While all seven types of plastic have some level of toxicity, some are far more toxic than others. PVC is the most dangerous plastic and is also known as "toxic plastic" because it contains numerous toxins that can be released throughout its life cycle.

PS is also considered a highly toxic form of plastic. Heat plays a role in the amount of toxins released, so it is recommended not to use this type of plastic to store hot food or drinks. PET can release toxins when exposed to sunlight or higher temperatures, so products made with this type of plastic should not be reused. It can be difficult to know exactly what toxins are in plastic #7, but it is very likely that most of these plastics release toxins such asBisphenol A(BPA) or Bisphenol S (BPS).

The safest plastics are the least likely to release toxins. HDPE is one of the safest types of plastic because of its stability. LDPE is also considered less toxic than other plastics and relatively safe to use. PP is another safer plastic option for use in food and beverages because it can withstand high temperatures and is therefore less likely to leach chemicals.

Toxins have been found to leach from plastics

  • #1 Polyethylene terephthalate (PET or PETE)- Antimony oxide, bromine, diazomethane, lead oxide, ethylene nickel oxide and benzene
  • No. 2 High Density Polyethylene (HDPE)- Chromium oxide, benzoyl peroxide, hexane and cyclohexane
  • #3 Polyvinyl chloride (PVC)- Benzene, carbon tetrachloride, 1,2-dichloroethane, phthalates, ethylene oxide, lead chromate, methyl acrylate, methanol, phthalic anhydride, tetrahydrofuran and tribasic lead sulfate, mercury, cadmium, bisphenol A (BPA)
  • No. 4 Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE)- Benzene, chromium oxide, cumene hydroperoxide and tert-butyl hydroperoxide
  • #5 Polypropylene (PP)– Metanol, 2,6-Di-terc-butil-4-metilfenol e Nickeldibutyldithiocarbamat
  • #6 Polystyrene (PS)- Styrene, ethylbenzene, benzene, ethylene, carbon tetrachloride, polyvinyl alcohol, antimony oxide and tert-butyl hydroperoxide, benzoquinone
  • #7 Other– BPA, BPS, as well as all other toxins mentioned

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