Plastic: It's Not All the Same

December 11, 2021

We all tend to think that all plastics are the same, but the question arises are all plastics really the same?

It's reasonable that many people assume it's all made of the same material from top to bottom. In reality, there are hundreds of different forms of plastic (also known as polymers), but we only deal with a few of them on a regular basis.

Understanding the many kinds of plastic is essential for comprehending the complexities of recycling, upcycling, and the health risks connected with plastic. This blog would help you in providing a deeper understanding of different types of plastic.

Of all the waste we generate, plastic bags are perhaps the greatest symbol of our throwaway society. They are used, then forgotten, and they leave a terrible legacy. – Zac Goldsmith

1. Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET or PETE)

One of the most frequently used plastics is this one. It is light, robust, and usually transparent, and it's generally used in food packaging and textiles. This type of plastic is intended for one-time use. Also, these types of plastic can be recycled. For example- Soft-drink bottles, containers for food and other consumer products, water bottles, peanut butter jars.

2. High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE)

High-Density Polyethylene is robust and chemically resistant, making it excellent for cartons, containers, pipes, and other construction components. As far as its disposal is concerned, HDPE is accepted at most recycling centers in the world, as it is one of the easiest plastic polymers to recycle. For example -Milk and juice bottles, dishwashing and laundry detergent, grocery bags.

3. Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC or Vinyl)

This tough, rigid plastic is resistant to chemicals and weathering, making it ideal for building and construction applications, while its lack of conductivity makes it ideal for high-tech applications like cables and cable. It's also popular in medical applications since it's resistant to pathogens, easy to clean, and offers single-use applications. However, PVC is the most hazardous plastic to human health, since it is known to release harmful chemicals during its whole lifespan. This type of some rigid plastic is being recycle but flexible plastic is rarely recycled and tough to recycle. Example of PVC are: Plumbing pipes, credit cards, human and pet toys, rain gutters, IV fluid bags, medical tubing, oxygen masks.

4. Low-Density Polyethylene (LDPE)

This kind of plastic is considered widely safe for regular storage use like milk pouch, Industrial packaging material. These are not commonly recycled, but it is being recyclable in certain areas. Recycled LDPE is used to make garbage cans, lumber, furniture, and many other products. For example- Plastic/cling wrap, sandwich, and bread bags, bubble wrap, garbage bags, grocery bags, and beverage cups.

5. Polypropylene (PP)

This is one of the most durable types of plastic. It has a higher heat resistance than certain others, making it excellent for food packaging and storage that is designed to contain hot foods or be heated. It's flexible enough to bend somewhat, yet it holds its shape and strength for a long period. For example- Straws, bottle caps, prescription bottles, hot food containers, packaging tape, disposable diapers, and DVD/CD boxes.

6. Polystyrene (PS or Styrofoam)

This hard plastic, better known as Styrofoam, is low-cost and insulates effectively, making it a standard in the food, packaging, and construction sectors.  Like PVC, polystyrene is considered to be a dangerous plastic. It can easily leach harmful toxins, which can easily then be absorbed by food and thus ingested by humans. For example- Packaging, CD covers, Styrofoam, egg cartons, packing “peanuts,” plastic tableware, carryout containers, disposable coffee cups, plastic food boxes, plastic cutlery, packing foam.

Majorly Single use plastic items of polystyrene like trays, dish plates, cups etc are proposed to be banned in India according to new draft notification on EPR by ministry of environment, forest and climate changes on 6th October.

7. Others

Oh, yes, the dreaded "other" choice! This is a catch-all category for additional forms of plastic that don't fit into any of the other six categories or are mixtures of many types. The most crucial point to keep in mind is that these polymers aren't usually recyclable.

Types of plastic which include in this list are Polycarbonate, fiberglass polylactide, nylon etc, out of which common ties which are produced: Drinking cups, plastic CDs, and DVDs.

These are some of the most common types of plastics that we encounter in our daily life. Now that we are aware, let’s make sure that we opt for a reusable alternative to plastic and also recycle the plastic that is possible.

“It’s only one straw,” said 8 billion people”

So, let’s change the world by our example rather than our opinion.