April 24, 2008

Recylcing Plastic Bottles

The other day I received a comment on my Water Bottle Safety post from the president and CEO of SPI, the plastics industry trade association. I couldn't believe that my little blog caught the attention of a president and CEO. It is important to get as much information as you can, so I post his comment here as it provides us with additional information on plastics and it recyclability (I think I made up a new word).

The numbers found on plastic containers are not meant to indicate the safe or intended use of a container or product, so they should never be used for that purpose. Different types of plastics must be separated before they can be properly recycled and reused, which is why the U.S. plastics industry created the numbering system in 1988. The resin ID codes were designed simply to help us properly sort our household trash for recycling--that's it. The resin codes do not signify whether or not our local towns will recycle those containers. For more clarification about the numbering system found on plastic containers, please view the plastics industry video recently posted at http://www.youtube.com/user/SocietyofPlasticsInd.

William Carteaux
SPI President & CEO

Thanks William for your comment! I think this is important, especially since we just celebrated Earth Day, that we know what we can recycle. Many plastics can be recycled, for example shampoo and conditioner bottles. So don't just throw away those plastic bottles, look at the number on the bottle and recycle if possible!

So the main point is that the number in the triangle does not indicate anything about the safety of plastics, unlike the story that the Today Show reported, which said to stay away for #7 bottles. Rather it only indicates the type of plastic and whether or not it can be recycled and that is its only purpose. I have noticed that REI has pulled Nalgene bottles them from their shelves. Not because of the #7, but because of the chemical bisphenol-A (BPA), which is the chemical that may have harmful effects on humans. While there does not appear to be conclusive evidence of the harm, I did notice that there are other #7 plastic water bottles being sold at REI that boast being BPA-free. It is hard to know exactly what to do with all this information, but I do think for me it might be better to err on the side of caution. I may not be giving up all my Nalgene bottles right away but I will be giving other alternatives a try. Plus, I will be recycling all the other possible plastic bottles that I can.

Update: Here are a few other online resources (courtesy of Robyn)
from The Consumerist Article
from The New York Times

Photo Source: Microsoft iStock



  1. The consumerist wrote a blog on the warning about the plastic bottles. They referenced an article written by the New York times which does state that not all #7 bottles have the BPA in them. It also mentions canned food has the BPA as well! Check it out!

    The Consumerist Article: http://tinyurl.com/63qaq9

    New York Times: http://tinyurl.com/68went

  2. Robyn - Thanks for the comment. Those links are definitely helpful!!