Plastic is one of the most versatile and long-lasting materials in the world. Formed through a combination of natural gases and linked molecules, plastic can be molded into infinite shapes and patterns. Take a look at the nearest plastic product to you – maybe a water bottle or even a stuffed animal – and flip it over. Chances are you will find a number engraved into the bottom of the object, telling you kind of plastic used to make the product in your hand.
These three common types of plastic create almost everything you use on a daily basis.
1 – Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET)
While this type of plastic has the most complicated name, it is actually the most common since it widely used to package food and drinks. Walk down any aisle in the supermarket and you’ll be able to see the many varieties of PET from water bottles to polyester fabric. PET is the most widely produced plastic in the world and is highly recyclable. It can be identified by the number one on the bottom of your instant noodles, or by the words “polyethylene pellets” written on your teddy bear’s tag.
3 – Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)
PVC (identified by the number three) is a high-resistance plastic most commonly used in construction, upholstery, plating tanks, and vinyl. It is currently the third-most produced plastic in the world and is distinct in its ability to be manufactured as either rigid (wall coverings, doors, pipes, etc) or brittle (apparel, carpeting, insulation, etc).
5- Polypropylene (PP)
This thick plastic is incredibly heat resistant and is used to store hot foods and beverages. This second-most produced plastic is strong while still maintaining flexibility and will not crack under pressure. Because of these uses, this plastic will live in common toys, tupperware and loudspeakers, and can be identified with the number five.
No matter what products you’re using, chances are they have been created with some type of plastic. Learning the different types of plastic can help you determine many factors such as recyclability, versatility and lifespan.