Plastic bottles have been linked to cancer and other health
problems. But are all plastic containers the same and are
they all potential health hazards? Glass is rarely used for
most personal care, skin care or cosmetic products. On the
other hand, plastic is everywhere in products we use daily, including
food, cleaning products, even care of newborn babies.
In today’s market a symbol and number on the bottom identify
most plastic containers. This information is important and
tells you what type of plastic is used, if it’s recyclable, and if it
is safe or not.
Certain ingredients can affect the plastic they are contained
in and some plastics can leach chemicals into the products
they contain. If you have sensitive skin, it’s very important
to know what ingredients are in your skin care, personal
care and makeup products. Make it also a habit to check the
tubes and bottles you buy that contain your food and sensitive
skin care and personal care products. This article will help you
learn the difference between those numbers under the plastic
PLASTICS THAT ARE SAFE
#1 PETE or PET—Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) absorb odors
and flavors from foods that are stored in them. It is a strong,
durable plastic that is clear. This type of plastic is the safest as
long as it’s not exposed to heat, such as left in the sun, or reused.
When reused, exposed to heat or left in the sun, this type
of plastic can leach the chemical phthalate. Phthalates have been
linked to liver damage, reproductive system damage, are toxic
to developing fetus, and other health problems. As long as not
exposed to heat, they are safe, and easily recycled for a variety of
USES: Soft drinks, beer, water, juice, ketchup, salad dressing,
food jars for peanut butter, jelly, pickles, ovenproof plastic
film and microwavable food trays.
#2 HDPE—High-density polyethylene is translucent, clear and
stiff. Foods that spoil easily do well with HDPE plastic. This plastic
type is considered as generally safe and it is not known to
transmit any chemicals to foods or drinks. It is recycled for a variety
of products. Recycled HDPE is used to make plastic crates,
plastic lumber, fencing and more.
USES:Plastic milk bottles, water, juice, cosmetics, shampoo,
dish and laundry detergents, bags for groceries and retail,
cereal box liners.
#4 LDPE—Low-density polyethylene is a very safe and healthy
plastic used for squeezable tubes, bottles and other uses. Not
known to leach any harmful chemicals. Not as widely recycled as
#1 and #2. Recycled LDPE is used to make garbage cans, lumber,
furniture and more.
USES: Frozen foods, fresh produce, shrink wrap, cold beverage
cups, squeeze tubes and bottles.
#5 PP—Commonly known as Styrofoam, Polypropylene is used
for deli soup containers, yogurt containers, drinking straws, baby
diapers, Rubbermaid™ containers, some plastic baby bottles,
hot liquids, ketchup bottles and other cloudy plastic bottles.
Commonly not recycled, but in some areas it is accepted and
recycled. Recycled PP is used to make rakes, battery cables and
USES: Yogurt containers, margarine, takeout meals, medicine
bottles, bottle caps, ketchup and syrup.
UNSAFE TYPES OF PLASTICS
#3 V or PVC—Vinyl/polyvinyl chloride
is used for pipes and tiles, Appalachian
Mountain spring water, and some
plastic squeeze bottles. This type of
plastic is flexible, and works well with
food or drink that expand or contract.
May leach hormone-disrupting chemicals
di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP).
It is not recyclable. This type of plastic
is not safe when in contact with food.
USES: Bags for bedding, window
frames, carpet backing, flooring, blister
#6 PS—Polystyrene is used for most
opaque plastic cutlery, plastic plates,
cups, Styrofoam and meat packaging.
May leach styrene, which may cause
cancer. Not recyclable.
USES: Cups, plates, bowls, cutlery,
#7 OTHER—Polycarbonate contains
bisphenol-A (BPA) and is used mostly
for plastic baby bottles, five gallon
water jugs, teething rings, pacifiers,
re-usable sports bottles, clear “sippy”
cups, some clear plastic cutlery, and inner
lining of food cans. BPA has been
linked to human breast cancer cell
growth, since it mimics estrogen. Not
USES: Larger water bottles, some
citrus juice, oven-baking bags, ketchup
Toothpaste Tubes with Aluminum
Many toothpaste tubes are lined with
aluminum. This type of tube (called
laminate) is recyclable, however, if the
tube is left in the sun or warm temperature,
the aluminum may leach into the paste. They also may have
trace amounts of BPA. Also, if the tube
cracks or splits, the aluminum and
BPA could leach into the paste. For
years Tom’s of Maine has used 100
percent aluminum tubes and maintained
that it was safe. However, since
2011, they have slowly been changing
to plastic tubes.
The FDA has strict standards for
the type of container that can be used
for fluoride toothpaste. Toothpaste
with fluoride is still contained in aluminum-
lined tubes for many brands.
Recent reports show positive benefits
of xylitol for tooth decay prevention, which
does not require the aluminum-lined tube.
Never reuse a plastic bottle as a food or
drink container if it didn’t originally contain
food or drink.
Many brands use tube manufacturers
in China, where quality control is not met as
strictly as with U.S. manufacturers. Cleure is
one brand that utilizes tubes that are made
in the USA and are safe and recyclable.