This is my 5th wlog in this series, where we will identify and discuss the effects of our use of Polypropylene (PP). The RIC or the Resin Identification Code for PP is the digit 5 inside the triangle made of three solid arrows. These identification codes were developed in the year 1988 by an organization called the ‘Plastic Industry Association”
Do check out my previous Wlogs, discussing the plastics from Recycling Codes 1 through 4 (PETE, HDPE, PVC and LDPE.)
The plastic type that we are discussing today, Polypropylene, is considered to be a “Safe Plastic”. It is BPA free, just as plastic types with code 1, 2 and 4.
It does not leach out as many chemicals as other plastics, but t does not mean that it does not leach out any harmful chemicals at all. Under stressed environments, PP may leach out harmful chemicals, which might disrupt our endocrine system.
Polypropylene is a thermoplastic polymer, which means, it is highly resistant to large temperatures. It is strong and tough plastic, and it keeps out moisture. Bottle caps, medicine bottles, ketchup and syrup bottles, yoghurt containers are made from Polypropylene. Not all, but most of the Tupperware products are made of PP. A lot of microwavable containers and containers/ bottles used to carry hot foods and beverages are made from PP, due to its high heat resistance. However, we need to understand that when containers are labelled, “microwavable/ dishwasher safe”, it only means that these products will not wrap under those high stress conditions. It does not necessarily mean that it is a safe practice. It is better to use glass containers to heat food and to hand wash the plastic containers.
Most of the PP ends in the landfills as only 3% of it gets recycled. Due to its high resistance to stressful environments it does not degrade easily and stays there for a very long time. Eventually, it leaches out harmful chemicals in our environment and pollutes the soil, water bodies and our atmosphere by releasing volatile organic compounds (organic substances that easily evaporate). To reduce the consumption of Polypropylene, we can use cloth diapers, reusable metal or glass straws, use metal lunch boxes, and carry our own containers and reusable bottles, when we opt for take-out food. Polypropylene is safe for reuse, and it is rarely recycled. More and more recyclers have started accepting PP for recycling it. It can be recycled into trays, bins, pallets, bicycle racks, ice scrapers, auto battery cases, brushes, brooms, battery cables, etc. We need to make sure that all the plastic is clean before we send it for recycling.
Hello readers, I am Saee Gunjal, author of this Wlog. I am studying Environmental Engineering from 'The University of Toledo' ( Toledo, Ohio) and love to dance. I am passionate about environmental issues and waste management. I plan to work with the same after I graduate.
Please stay tuned for my next wlog on polystyrene waste.