Understanding What the Numbers on Plastic Bottles Mean

Monday, April 26, 2021


Understanding What the Numbers on Plastic Bottles Mean

At a glance, the average jar or bag looks the same (albeit sometimes more or less flexible).  The assumption of sameness is an easy mistake to make by consumers unengaged in manufacturing or recycling processes. The truth is, though, not all plastics are exactly alike. Like many products, plastic is graded on a scale that’s denoted with a number. Understanding what the numbers on plastic bottles mean helps businesses make the best material selection for their products.

What Are Plastic Numbers?

The identifying numbers stamped or printed on plastic helps clarify its intended use. Different grades are better suited for storing materials with varying makeups. For instance, some plastics are food-safe, whereas others are intended more for general storage. Choosing the right plastic containers for your product makes all the difference when it comes to delivering a fresh and quality product to customers.

Type 1 Plastic (PETE: Polyethylene Terephthalate)

This is known as polyethylene terephthalate, or PETE. Typically, this variety is used in soft drink beverage bottles and medicine containers. It’s a common choice for food-safe containers.

Type 2 Plastic (HDPE: High-density Polyethylene)

High-density polyethylene, or HDPE, is one of the sturdiest varieties of plastic. It can be found making up toys, containers, and tougher grocery bags.

Type 3 Plastic (PVC: Polyvinyl Chloride)

Polyvinyl chloride is a widely purposed type of plastic due to its durability with varying degrees of flex. Most commonly, it’s found in pipes, tubing, vinyl items such as upholstery, and even shower curtains. It’s also identified with a lone V.

Type 4 Plastic (LDPE: Low-density Polyethylene)

Low-density polyethylene, or LDPE, is most often used in manufacturing wrapping films and bags. It offers sturdiness through flexibility that’s unique from other types.

Type 5 Plastic (PP: Polypropylene)

PP type is commonly used to manufacture caps, Tupperware, and orange medicine bottles as well as some fresh food containers. It’s known as polypropylene. Understanding what the numbers on plastic bottles mean is especially important when different types are used to protect similar but sensitive kinds of medicine.

Type 6 Plastic (PS: Polystyrene)

Polystyrene, or PS, can be used for many durable and flexible applications. It’s commonly used to make plastic cutlery and various forms of Styrofoam.

Type 7 Plastic (Other)

Seven is a special indicator used to identify specialty plastics made by combining the other grades. It also refers to plastics combined with alternative materials, such as plastics made from corn and other biodegradable materials. Note that the latter forms aren’t intended for recycling.

Packaging Options Direct produces a wide selection of plastic jars, wholesale, as well as many other forms and materials of packaging solutions. We carry a wide selection of high-quality stock packages, including different plastic types. Reach out to us today to discuss the unique needs of your products!

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