Plastic packaging – dangerous, more dangerous, the most dangerous

Photo-Illustration: Unsplash (Brian Jurasits)

Somewhere, I hope that part of the population is aware of how dangerous plastic packaging waste is for the environment, and that they dispose of used packaging in a proper manner. However, I’m afraid that a small percentage of those who have knowledge about how plastic packaging is, even before it loses its current use value and becomes waste, is dangerous.

When buying products in plastic packaging, do you pay attention to the labels on them? Do you know what the numbers in the triangle with three arrows and the abbreviations below them represent? If you thought they were insignificant, I would like to get to know their meaning together now. Not only can plastic packaging waste be dangerous to nature when it ends up in it, but this type of packaging can also be dangerous to us while we are still using it.

Photo-illustration: EP

On the right side of the text there is an illustration showing the most common markings on plastic packaging, and in the rest of the text I will briefly explain the meaning of each.

Label 1/PETE

Polyethylene terephthalate or abbreviated PET packaging, which we are all familiar with, is a plastic packaging that we use almost every day. Bottles of water, other drinks, oil and food are mostly packed in this type of plastic. What we should know is that this kind of packaging is intended for single use. If we use it repeatedly, toxic substances may be released. This type of packaging is easily recycled, which is why it would be safer to put it in the recycling bin in any case.

Label 2/HDPE

High density polyethylene is a plastic that is safe to reuse. It is also used as packaging for water and juices, and it is also used to produce packaging for household chemicals, cosmetics, plastic bags, toys and more. This type of plastic can be recycled many times.

Label 3/V (3/PVC)

Polyvinyl chloride, or PVC, is one of the most dangerous types of plastic. Plasticizers are often added to this plastic, which are actually harmful, and both bottles and toys are made from it.

Label 4/LPDE

Low density polyethylene is safe to use multiple times. However, this type of plastic should be avoided, as it is very difficult to recycle. The plastic bags that we find in stores are made of it.

Mark 5/PP

Polypropylene is a relatively safe type of plastic, more precisely, if it is not exposed to high temperatures, because then it releases toxic substances. Glasses of yogurt and sour milk are mostly made of it. What should be noted is that the possibility of their recycling is weak.

Designation 6/PS

Polystyrene, better known as Styrofoam, is questioned when it comes to its safety. Namely, styrene can be released, which has been linked to lung cancer in some mice and breast cancer in rats. However, there is no clear evidence that it can have a carcinogenic effect on humans. Due to its fragile and light structure, the pieces that break off easily end up in nature.

Label 7/OTHER

Under the label THE OTHER, there are all types of plastic that are not classified in any of the previous six. Given that this includes bio-plastics, as well as mixtures of others, their safety and recyclability cannot be determined, as with the previous ones.

Although on the scale of dangerous for people and the environment, those with a smaller negative impact can be singled out, unfortunately it still exists when it comes to this type of plastic, especially for the environment. Even if all citizens dispose of all plastic packaging waste in recycling bins, without sufficient knowledge about which type is recyclable, it is not enough. Proper sorting of such waste is also necessary, taking into account the fact that we find an alternative for those plastics that are difficult to recycle. For example, let’s replace plastic marked 4/LPDE, i.e. plastic bags, with bags.

Katarina Vuinac

Source: Energetski Portal by

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