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Getting To Know The Different Types Of Plastic Cheat Sheet by

Plastics can be split into two main categories: thermoplastics & thermoset plastics, before even considering the 7 codes of plastics, it is vital to understand the basic differences between these two.

About The Types Of Plastics

There are two main categories of plastics, namely ther­­­­m­­o­p­­­l­­­a­s­­­­tics and ther­­­­moset plasti­­­cs.

Ther­­­­moset plastics are plastics known for their durabi­­­­­lity, resistance to high temper­­­­­a­tures & chemicals, & very low impact resist­­­­­ance. These types of plastics once cured cannot be recycl­­­­ed.
­E­­xa­­­mples of thermoset plastics are silicone, epoxy or polyester resin, fibreg­­­­­lass.

Ther­­­­m­­o­p­­­l­­­a­s­­­­tics are plastics known for their high-i­­­­­mpact resist­­­­­ance, hard crysta­­­­­lline or rubbery surface options, remolding & reshaping capabi­­­­­l­i­­ties, & aesthe­­­­­t­i­­cally pleasing finishes. These types of plastics are recycl­­­­­a­b­le.

Codes Of Plastics

Code 1: Polyet­­­­­h­ylene Tereph­­­­­t­h­­a­late (PET)
Drink bottles, medicine jars, Carpet Fibre, Clothing
Code 2: High-D­­­­­e­nsity Polyet­­­­­h­ylene (HDPE)
Milk, Shampoo's, Soap or Bleach bottles
Code 3: Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)
Piping, Windows
Code 4: Low-De­­­­­nsity Polyet­­­­­h­ylene (LDPE)
Cling film, Plastic bags, Squeezable bottles
Code 5: Polypr­­­­­o­p­­y­lene (PP)
Yoghurt contai­­­­­ners, Margarine contai­­­­­ners, Plastic bottle caps
Code 6: Polyst­­­­­y­rene (PS)
Disposable coffee cups, Plastic cutlery, Packing foam
Code 7: Other
Baby bottles, Compact discs,­­­­­Water cooler bottles

Codes Of Plastics With Examples

Unders­tanding The Codes

is well known as one of the most easily recycled plastics on the market. Most plastic water bottles are made from PET and when recycled they can be conv­­­erted into items such as fibe­­­r-­­f­iller for duvets, carp­e­­ti­ng, insu­l­­at­­ion, new packaging trays, or more water bottles.
are used in milk bottles and grocery bags this plastic is also considered safe for human use.
3: V/ PVC
these vers­­­atile plastics are used in everything from plumbing pipelines to shrink wrap. Known to contain DEHPs these plastics are considered toxic to humans.
famously known for bags, coffee cups, and “paper” milk cartons, these plastics do not contain BPAs and so are considered safer for human use.
5: PP
these plastics also make up the bulk of yogurt containers and insula­­­tion for winter clothing. They are tough, light-­w­­­eight, and generally considered safe for human use.
6: PS
styr­­­of­o­am, used in many items from plates and cups to packaging materi­­als, it is considered a pote­ntial carc­i­­no­­­genic in the presence of heat. Also not commonly recycl­ed, these weak and ultralight items are often culprits of ocean pollut­­­ion.
it does not contain any one of the above six resins. Code seven plastics are exce­p­t­­­ionally dangerous to human health as many of them contain BPAs, BPSs, or both.

5 Simple Ways To Avoid Using Plastic

1. Say Goodbye to sing­l­e-use plastic water b­ottl­es, invest in an eco-­f­­ri­­­endly, reusable water bottle.
2. Shop with reusable bags. Take your own bags when shopping!
3. Ditch the straw! Take your own metal reusable straw, or don't use a straw at all.
4. Try and recycle everyt­­­h­i­ng. Make the effort to rinse out plastic packaging to avoid contam­­­i­n­a­­tion, place the correct waste in the correct bins and get them collected on time.
5. Buy local and season­al­ pr­odu­­cts. Go to your nearest superm­­­a­r­ket or local food market and buy your products there.

Why Recycle Plastic?

Recycling provides a sust­­­ai­­nable source of raw materi­als to the industry.
It greatly reduces the enviro­­­n­m­ental (espec­­­ially the CO2) impact of plasti­­­c­-rich products and minimises the amount of plastic being sent to landfill sites.

By recycling we avoid the consum­­­ption of the Earth’s oil stocks, we consume less energy than producing new, virgin polymers.

Recycling is esse­ntial to prot­e­­cting our oceans and wildli­­fe. It also embeds the right values and behavi­­­our to reduce human impact on the enviro­­­n­ment.

What Can You Do - Follow the 3 R's


The Plastic Recycling Process

Types Of Recycling

There are two types of plastic recycl­­ing:
Trad­­­it­­ional recycl­­­ing (which suits thermo­­­p­l­astic materials) is a process whereby old used plastic items are melted down and conv­erted into new usable produc­ts. This is usually done using an inje­­­ction molding method.

The second type is Advanced recycl­­ing, this type of plastic recycling is a process whereby old used plastics are broken down using chemic­­­als.

It includes three techni­­­ques all of which transform the old item into crude oil, gas, or monomers respec­­­t­i­vely. Whichever the method, recycling has the same aim: to take the old and make it new.

Worldwide Recycling Statistics

Toxic Chemicals In Plastics

The Waste Framework Directive

Sets out that waste should be dealt with in accordance with the waste hierar­­­chy, with legisl­­­ation aiming to move waste management up the hierarchy.

Prev­­­en­­t­ion – Reducing resources used in manufa­­­c­ture, ensuring products last for a long time and using less material

Prep­­­aring for reuse – Repairing, cleaning, refurb­­­i­shing and checking

Other recovery – Incine­­­r­ation to produce energy, anaerobic digestion, gasifi­­­c­ation and pyrolysis to produce either fuel, heat or electr­­­i­city.

Disp­­osal – Landfill or incine­­­r­ation without energy recovery

Waste Hierachy

Ocean Plastic Statistics

The world produces 381 million tonnes in plastic waste yearly – this is set to double by 2034.
50% of this is single-use plastic & only 9% has ever been recycled.
More than 1 million plastic bags end up in the trash every minute.
Plastic micr­o­be­ads are estimated to be one million times more toxic than the seawater around it.
More than 1 million seabirds and 100,000 marine animals die from plastic pollution every year.
Marine plastic pollution has affected 100% of marine turtles, 59% of whales, 36% of seals and 40% of seabirds of those examined.
More than two-­t­hi­rds of the world’s fish stocks are suffering from plastic ingestion.
If coral encounters plastic the likelihood of it becoming diseased increases from 4% to 89%, a disastrous effect as coral is home to more than 25% of marine life.


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