Tuppers, cosmetic containers, cleaning products, food, toys… All these everyday objects are made of plastic and, when we use the word in its singular form, we do not realize that each of the things listed is probably made of a different kind of plastic.

And although it is true that packaging or the products made of this material have stamped on them the type of plastic they are made of, a large part of the consumers do not distinguish them, which affects the possibility of recycling them.

Whether or not you know what type of packaging you are handling, you have surely noticed the packaging symbol that includes arrows. It is the Möbius ring, internationally recognized as a symbol of recycling. When it is surrounded by a circle, it informs how much of the material used for the object has been recycled. If it does not include the circle, it indicates that the materials with which a product or packaging has been made are reusable.

It is important to see if the Möbius ring is green, because that means that the company that produces the material complies with the Waste Law and, therefore, when the material is discarded, it can be recycled. It is also common to find Tidyman, the symbol that represents a person throwing an object in the trash. It is a consumer attention call in the form of a recommendation to dispose of the material properly.

 

Most common types of plastic in packaging

  • PET or PETE (Polyethylene terephthalate). It is recyclable and can be reused by the industry to make textile, furniture or useful pieces. That is, it is possible to give it a second life. Food and drink are usually packaged in this type of plastic because it is cheaper to produce and its initial conception indicates that it is manufactured to be used on one occasion.
  • HDPE (High density polyethylene). It is used to package household cleaning products, shampoos and soaps due to its resistance, although it can also be found in juice or yoghurt containers. It is highly unlikely to melt, so the toy industry uses it regularly. This type of plastic is also recyclable and it can be given a second life by reworking it.
  • V or PVC (Vinyl or polyvinyl chloride). It has the same uses as HDPE due to its resistance, although it is also often used for items found in the home such as windows, hoses, etc. It is not usually recycled and when it deteriorates, it releases toxic substances, so it is dangerous to expose food to it. This is because of its high chlorine content, which can make for more than half of the composition.
  • LDPE (Low density polyethylene). It is resilient, flexible and characterized by being transparent. It can be found in bottles or bags for frozen food.
  • PP (Polypropylene). It is suitable for hot food because it resists heat well and is characterized by its rigidity. It is used for medicines, sauce cans and lids. It is suitable for heating in the microwave and is used even in cars. When recycled, this type of plastic is used for the manufacture of light signals, brooms, rakes or buckets.
  • PS (Polystyrene). Contrary to polypropylene, polystyrene melts easily in contact with heat, which is why it is mainly used for single-use trays, medicine containers, plates and cups, etc. It is considered to be difficult to recycle.
  • Others (BPA, polycarbonate and LEXAN). Any type of plastic that is difficult to recycle is found in this category. These types of material have different uses and they can be found both in packaging for food or for glasses and everyday objects. It is rigid and withstands high temperatures well.

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