Restaurants Use of Plastic & Plastic Product Codes

Restaurants like indicated in LocalCircles survey continue to us plastic for packaging hot items. Read what experts say about plastic packaging "Do not pour hot food or liquid into plastic container. Many of us serve hot food or liquid in plastic containers. We may not see any change in the appearance of plastic. But, plastic produces dangerous chemical on temperature change, which leaches into the food."

More about codes:
What does the number on a plastic product indicate?
Society of Plastic Industry (SPI) has introduced some codes, which help to separate different types of plastics for recycling. They are known as the plastic ID or plastic recycling code. These codes are internationally accepted. The recycling code consists of 3 arrows in clockwise, which form a triangle. There will be a number written inside this triangle. Sometimes, the short form the material used to manufacture the product also will be written below the triangle. The number in triangle provides many information about the plastic such as the chemical used in its manufacture, heat resistance of the plastic, leaching of chemicals, biodegradability and for what purpose it is most suitable.

Different plastic recycling codes

Plastic Recycling Codes

Plastic Code #1 (PET)
The plastic containers with #1 are made of Polyethylene Terephthalate. It is commonly called PET or PETE. Plastic container with code #1 is meant for one time use. The bottle made with PET is usually thin and clear. It is mainly used for making bottles for water, oil, soft drinks, jam etc. It is considered to be safe for one time use. It can be recycled and use for making tote bags, fiber etc.

Plastic Code #2 (HDPE)
This category of plastic is made of High Density Polyethylene (HDPE). This is comparatively safer variety of plastic. #2 plastics will be opaque and thicker than #1. It is mainly used for making milk, water, and juice bottles. Plastic containers for detergent, shampoo etc. is made with #2 plastics. Chance for leaching of chemicals is very less for this category. This can be recycled too.

Plastic Code #3 (PVC)
The plastic made of Poly Vinyl Chloride or PVC comes under this category. PVC can be rigid or flexible. #3 plastics are mainly used for plumbing purposes. Continuous usage of PVC may lead to hormone problems, which will adversely affect reproductive system. #3 plastics are not advisable for cooking and storing food items. It should not be burned since it produces poisonous gases. PVC is rarely recycled.

Plastic Code #4 (LDPE)
Low Density Polyethylene is numbered with 4. It is soft and flexible. Plastic with code #4 is mainly used for making paper milk & juice cartons, hot & cold beverage cups, bread & frozen food covers etc. LDPE is one of the safe plastic. It can be recycled too.

Plastic Code #5 (PP)
This category of plastic is made with Polypropylene. It is hard but, flexible kind of material. It is used in making ice cream containers, ketchup bottles, medicine bottles, diapers etc. This plastic can be recycled. #5 plastic is safe to use as food containers and can be reused.

Plastic Code #6 (PS)
This is made with Polystyrene and is commonly known as Styrofoam. It is rigid in appearance. #6 plastics are mainly used in making disposable cups and plates, CD cases, egg cartons etc. This plastic seems to produce some poisonous gases, especially, when heated. Recycling is also difficult. So, it is better to avoid or reduce the use of #6 plastics.

Plastic Code #7 (Others)
All other types of plastics such as acrylic, Poly carbonate, Co polyester comes under this category. This is commonly used for making DVDs, Sunglasses, Certain food containers and bottles, Computer cases etc.

Tips for safe usage of plastic containers
As we know, it is impossible to avoid usage of plastic in our life. However, by following the given tips, we can reduce the risks:
Never use plastic containers in microwave even if they claim it as microwave proof.

Do not pour hot food or liquid into plastic container. Many of us serve hot food or liquid in plastic containers. We may not see any change in the appearance of plastic. But, plastic produces dangerous chemical on temperature change, which leaches into the food.

Avoid keeping plastic oilcans near stove because, it emit chemicals with heating.

Use eco-friendly plastics only.

Never burn plastic products after usage. Give it for recycling.

How to identify the food grade plastic?
We can't imagine a world without plastic. But, continuous usage of plastic harms our health and environment. We must take sincere effort to reduce its use and make others aware of its adverse effects. Try to replace all the possible plastic containers in our house with glass / steel. If you use plastic containers for storing food, buy code numbers 2,4 and 5 only. They are food grade plastics. Code #1 plastic is also safe to use. But it is made for single use. Give it for recycling after use. The containers made with #3 and #7 plastics leaches chemical into the food contained in it. So, strictly avoid using them for storing food. Use eco-friendly products only and save our planet. more  

View all 10 comments Below 10 comments
So, we have enlightened 395 people of this country with over 3.5 billion people including those who manufacture plastic utensils and sell them about plastic product. What an achievement. more  
Indian technical testing centers, environment departments time and again warning not to pack cooked food or other edible or human consumables in plastic containers,as the basic raw material contains bisphenol,which is nothing but hydrocarbon, a petroleum product. This material corrodes and mixes in all food items,hence plastic based containers are banned for packaging food products. In many restaurants, street vendors serve food items - be it hot, cold or other fruit items in aluminum foiled bags. Some eateries continue to pack foods in waxed or extra smooth paper containers,which is again banned. Unless these banned packing products are fully withdrawn, chances of food products carrying traces of carcinogens residues or traces which are consumed by innocent people. more  
Thanks for very valuable information. more  
Yes, it is a fact that hot foods are packaged in plastic containers. But there are various alternatives, which we should adopt to overcome this, but it may not be convenient for the customer. more  
This information is available who are interested but how and who constituted such half truth and lies are yet to be established. Every thing bad "are seems to be" and not proved. The "neo-anti plastic lobby" spreads misinformation to gain financial support from corporates, which is some sort of "black mailing". It is another source of making money. During the pandemic if you walk in to a wayside chai point and when they serve you a Styrofoam cup of tea please turn it upside down to look for the number before drinking it. The more intelligent people carry a khullar in the back pack and wash it and reuse it again and again. more  
Yes, people must know that there are nearly 6 new polymers manufacturing plants are going to be started in the country. If plastic is so bad why govt is giving green signal to all such projects? Only important is to learn, know the correct information not go by the negative publicities. Can one immagine if all running n new projects are shut how many people will lose their jobs, businesses, small manufacturers,? Same people will make hue n cry for enemployment. more  
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