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Plastic classification: the 7 types you should know about

Although almost everything we know is called "plastic", this term has within it, different components that consolidate the types of plastics. This novel material for mankind has been one of the fastest growing in production and commercialization, leaving a questionable and highly negative impact on the planet.

Currently, many of the companies seeking to develop plastic are experimenting with planet-friendly alternatives. So here we tell you what types of plastic there are, and which ones are in accordance with environmental care.

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Types of plastic

There is a rating of plastics that divides them into seven categories, all numbered from 1 to 7 that appear within objects made of plastics. This numbering provides us with a huge amount of information about the production plastic of the particular object but what are they made of? How are they recycled? Read on:

1. PET Polyethylene Terephthalate

The composition of PET comes from the polycondensation between ethylene glycol and terephthalic. Therefore, its composition achieves a transparency unmatched in other plastics, and at the same time it is suitable for the use of colorants in its composition.

Among the different types of plastics, the main characteristic of this one is its ease of recycling. Although it is a resistant and flexible material, its practicality means that it can be recycled in many ways, and not necessarily in a specialized plant. This material is used for packaging products such as: oil, water, juices; generally everything related to food packaging.

Once recycled, it can fulfill other functions. This is the case of reused bottles for construction, or if it disintegrates, the plastic fibers can be used to create textile fibers. Currently, there are many projects in cities that facilitate the recycling of these types of plastics, either in homes or in communities seeking alternatives for their use.

Among the plastics, this is the most environmentally friendly, but if it is not deposited correctly for recycling, it can take between 500 and 1,000 years to decompose.

  • High Resistance

  • CO2 and moisture barrier

  • Recyclable

  • Light

  • Waterproof

  • Approved for food contact use

  • Transparency and colorant admission

2. HDEP High Density Polyethylene

This category of material has a physical consistency that is not very flexible. It tends to be very hard which makes it suitable for use in the packaging of many products. Such as dairy products, soft drinks, detergents and other liquid products, which are sold on the market in this presentation.

These containers are highly resistant to chemical impacts, so although they can be recycled, they require an additional process to reuse the material.

  • Can be easily recycled and reused

  • High chemical and thermal resistance

  • Solid, colorless

  • Rigid

  • Light

  • Waterproof

  • Resistant to water, acids and various solvents

  • Processed for reuse and easy recycling

3. PVC Polyvinyl

The composition of polyvinyl makes it one of the most malleable and widely used plastics. Its combination of carbon and chlorine gives it versatility and resistance. Therefore, it can be used for flexible products such as hoses or wiring, and it can also be rigid in cards or pipes of higher density and resistance.

The PVC recycling process is highly complex and can only be achieved in specialized plants. But once it is recycled, it can be reused in pipes.

  • Ductile and high environmental resistance

  • Low density, high abrasion and impact resistance

  • Stable and inert

  • Corrosion resistant

  • Recyclable through a complex process

4. LDPE (Low Density Polyethylene)

Low density polyethylene has a high resistance to chemos and impacts. It is a flexible plastic in which the transparency depends on the thickness.

Examples of frequent use are: plastic bags and gloves, plastic film, bubble wrap or water bottles. It can be reused, but it is not always possible to recycle it. If these plastics are not properly recycled, they can take more than 150 years to decompose, leaving small pieces of microplastics.

  • High chemical and thermal resistance

  • Impact resistance

  • Ease of processing

  • Transparent or opaque, depending on its thickness

  • Difficult to recycle

  • Difficult to print, paint or glue on its surface

5. PP Polypropylene

Polypropylene is the result of the polymerization of propylene. It is one of the types of flexible plastics that resists chemicals and is moldable. It is present in products such as butter containers, disposable diapers and straws.

To achieve the recycling of polypropylene, a process must be followed from recycling plants suitable for this purpose.

  • Resistance to chemicals

  • Resistant to boiling water

  • Resistance to loads

  • Resistant to detergents

  • Low cost, easy to mold and color

  • Medium recycling difficulty

6. PS Polystyrene

Polystyrene is a plastic known for its rigidity and hardness. Within it there are several types of polystyrene, which guarantee greater strength and resistance. Therefore, it is generally used for the manufacture of products such as boxes that withstand large amounts of weight, milk drink containers, food transport trays, among others.

The recycling process of this material is one of the most complicated, although possible. After chemical decomposition and processing in a recycling plant, it is possible to achieve reuse. Although it is recommended to avoid the use of these types of plastic.

  • Difficult but possible to recycle

  • Rigid

  • High resistance

  • Hardness

7. Other

This category includes all other plastics, which are often extremely difficult to recycle. This process is usually costly and complex, but possible.

Some examples would be CDs, toys or baby bottles, which we usually deposit in the yellow container by mistake and should be taken to the nearest Punto Limpio. In the corresponding centers, the product will be treated by separating its plastic components.

  • Difficult to recycle

  • Contains various resins

  • Mix of different materials

Now you know which plastics are easier to treat, and which we should consume less. We leave you a small summary of 3devo to make it easier for you to identify the type of plastic you are going to consume.

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