Plastic is of course not a foreign material anymore in this world. But, did you know that there are seven types of plastic? These seven types are the main material for the products we use everyday. What are the seven types of plastic and their impact on the environment? Check out the following description.
1. PET/Polyethylene Terephthalate
This is the type of plastic that we encounter the most, because it is in almost every store or supermarket. Can be used as packaging for soda, mineral water, jars, to household cleaning products. PET plastic is widely used, because it can prevent oxygen from entering the packaging and damaging the product inside.
With its relatively massive use, PET plastic is indeed one of the biggest contributors to waste. However, this type of plastic can be recycled, even hundreds of times. The PET recycling process is generally carried out through various recycling programs, both by the community and by large companies. PET plastic can be recycled into textiles, shoes, and many more.
2. HDPE/High-Density Polyethylene Plastic Type
This type of HDPE plastic usually has opaque characteristics and is used as packaging for shampoo, oil, conditioner, and milk. This plastic is considered stronger or sturdier, and has a lower risk of chemical contamination when compared to PET.
Even so, research shows HDPE can dissolve estrogen-mimicking additive chemicals that can interfere with the body’s natural hormonal system. With its sturdy and strong character, this type of plastic is also widely recycled. However, the recycled product is usually used for the same purpose as the original product.
3. LDPE/Low-Density Polyethylene
LDPE is the type of plastic that we also encounter most often, especially when the no-shopping bag rule hasn’t been enforced. It’s commonly used in shopping bags, cling wrap, squeezable bottles, and more. The reason for the massive use of LDPE is none other than because this material is cheap and easy to manufacture.
This type of plastic also has a structure that is less dense and less crystalline than other types of plastic. Therefore, this plastic is also very flexible. While ideal for comfortable human use, LDPE plastic is very difficult or even nearly impossible to recycle. So, most of it ends up in landfills.
4. PVC/Polyvinyl Chloride
PVC plastic is a hard plastic used primarily in pipes and tiles. It’s also used in toys, detergents package, cooking oil bottles, and more. PVC is also described as the most toxic plastic. Vinyl chloride, a chemical used to make PVC, has been described as a carcinogen.
The use of these plastics can dissolve a variety of toxic pollutants, such as bisphenol A (BPA), phthalates, lead, dioxins, mercury and cadmium which are widely considered to be cancer-causing. This type of plastic is also rarely accepted in recycling programs.
With its very rigid and heat-resistant characteristics, this type of plastic is also very popular. PP plastic is not easy to wear out in the long term. Therefore, we often encounter it as heat-resistant food packaging, as well as yogurt, syrup, or medicine packaging.
Despite being of much better quality than other types of plastic, PP is unfortunately not recyclable. Their use also continues to harm humans and the environment.
6. PS/Polystyrene Plastic Type
Polystyrene (PS) plastic is a naturally transparent thermoplastic that is available as either a plain solid plastic or in the form of a rigid foam material. This type of plastic is a versatile plastic that is used to make a wide variety of products.
For example, food packaging products, containers to take home, and laboratory equipment. When combined with various dyes, additives or other plastics, polystyrene is used to make electronic products, auto parts, toys, etc.
However, PS is classified as a plastic that is difficult to recycle, so it is rarely done and never fully degraded. This then causes PS waste to end up in landfills. Polystyrene plastic has also been shown to be carcinogenic and harmful to human health.
7. Other Type
There are several other types of plastic out there that don’t fall into any of the above categories. Among them are Polycarbonate (PC) and Bioplastics. Bioplastics are “plastics” made from renewable sources such as agricultural waste (such as canola, soybeans, corn and potatoes).
Polycarbonate itself is often associated with BPA which is very toxic. This plastic is found in baby bottles and medical storage containers. Meanwhile, bioplastics are considered a type of plastic with minimal negative impact on the environment.