Blog: BUNNYpants and SIPPYcup - Eclectic Menagerie
by Aharleygyrl

Safe Plastic Containers

The Solutions

Date:   9/28/2007 8:39:30 AM   ( 14 y ) ... viewed 33690 times

What to look for

Safer plastics--#2HDPE, #4LDPE, and #5PP

When choosing plastic containers, even those you'll use over and over again, choose those that are accepted for recycling in your area. Although #1 PETE is one of the most commonly recycled types, there are no containers designed for re-use made from it, and one should never re-use single-use #1 plastic bottles because their design doesn't lend itself to proper cleaning and the bottles can harbor bacterial growth. There are, however, a number of reusable containers made from another commonly recycled plastic, #2 HDPE.

Number #4 LDPE and #5PP plastics, although not as widely recycled, are also good choices since, as with #2, most research has not shown leaching of any carcinogens or endocrine disruptors. Some bread and frozen food bags and squeezable bottles are made out of #4 plastic and some ketchup bottles and yogurt and margarine tubs are manufactured from #5 plastic.

Biodegradable plastic

Recent technological developments have led to the developments of plastics made from corn. These corn-based resins are derived from various chemicals, one of them being polylactide (PLA), which is decomposed by bacteria when composted. While bags made of PLA look, feel and smell like normal plastic bags, in about twelve days, more than half the bag will have broken down, unlike conventional plastic bags, which can take up to 100 years to decompose.

The range of biodegradable plastic storage products is expanding within the commercial sector, and companies and consumers are quickly realizing the cost and environmental benefits of this type of packaging. In the States, the Wild Oats Market chain has replaced conventional plastic containers used for bulk foods with PLA containers. Recently, Biota water, Naturally Iowa dairy, Newman's Own and the natural foods retailer Earth Fare have begun using the PLA produced by Cargill Dow-offshoot NatureWorks LLC. While use and availability of these products is primarily in the commercial sector, their initial success suggests we can look forward to home products like food storage containers and plastic wrap in the near future. Currently, biodegradable garbage bags, disposable dinnerware--plates, cups, flatware and straws--are available for home use. For online retailers of biodegradable plastics, see "Resources."

Glass, Ceramic and Stoneware

Glass, ceramic and stoneware are the safest options when it comes to food packaging and storage because they do not leach any questionable chemicals when in contact with food. Unlike plastic recycling, which produces toxic chemicals, glass recycling is more environmentally friendly.

Seek out these glass, ceramic and stoneware products instead of plastic to ensure that your food will not come in contact with toxic chemicals when stored or heated:

Anchor Hocking Barrel Jar with Aluminum Lid Anchor Hocking Blue Cracker Jar
Anchor Hocking Georgian Canister
Anchor Hocking Heritage Hill Canister
Anchor Hocking Penny Candy Canister
Bormioli Fido Storage Jar
Bormioli Pitcher
Bormioli Round Storage Container
Bormioli Square Storage Container
Bormioli Rectangular Storage Container
Bormioli Storage Cylinder
Bormioli Save & Serve Plate
Clay Design Coffee Canister
Clay Design Popcorn Canister
Libbey Storage Bowl
Libbey Pumpkin Candy Jar
Pyrex Glass Food Storage Containers
Resourceful Products Mini Jar Canister

Aluminum and Stainless Steel

Food storage containers made of aluminum are an alternative to plastics because aluminum is recyclable, relatively inexpensive and offers even heating capability. However, aluminum extraction is extremely energy intensive, so reusing old pots is encouraged. Aluminum can sometimes react with certain foods or impact a metallic taste, so use them for storing foods with a low acid content.

Containers made from stainless steel are an environmentally friendly choice not only because the material is 100-percent recyclable but also because stainless steel is easy to clean without any harsh chemicals. Stainless steel is also inexpensive, attractive and will not react with foods during cooking.

When storing or heating foods, look for the following aluminum and stainless steel products. However, never use a microwave to heat food in metal containers. Doing so could spark a fire.

Corning Bowls
Correlle Bowls
Emily Henry Bowls
Gear County Bowls
Ingleman Bowls
Johnson Brothers Storage Jars
Johnson Brothers Bowls
Klean Kanteen's Stainless Steel Water Bottles
Klean Kanteen's To-Go Ware
Pillsbury Storage Jars
Pfaltzgraff Storage Jars
Reston Lloyd Bowls
Sigg's Stainless Steel Water Bottles
Wedgewood Bowls

What to look out for

Risky Plastics--#3 PVC, #6 PS, and #7 Other (Usually Polycarbonate)

Sometimes found in clear food packaging, #3 PVC, the second most commonly used plastic in the world, is a toxic plastic dangerous both to our health and to the environment. Its manufacture and incineration releases dioxins, a potent carcinogen and hormone disruptor. Vinyl chloride, the primary building block of PVC, is a known human carcinogen that also poses a threat to workers during manufacture.

In contact with foods, especially hot, fatty foods, PVC can also leach chemicals such as adipates and phthalates, which have been shown to cause birth defects and damage to the liver, kidneys, lungs and reproductive systems in mice. In addition, most community recycling programs do not accept PVC, so the vast majority of vinyl ends up in landfills or incinerators. While many companies have agreed to restrict or phase out PVC, we still have a long way to go before this "toxic" plastic is banned from use.

Polystyrene, #6 PS, is usually found in foam containers and cups and sometimes in clear disposable takeout containers, plastic cutlery and cups. It's best to avoid this plastic because PS may leach styrene into food it comes in contact with. Styrene, considered a possible human carcinogen by IARC, may also disrupt hormones or affect reproduction.

Polycarbonate (marked as #7), usually found in baby bottles, 5-gallon water bottles and the epoxy lining in food cans can leach BPA into liquids and foods. A study conducted at Prefectural University of Kumamoto, Japan, concluded that polycarbonate bottles containing hot liquids leach more BPA than new bottles.

Since 95 percent of all baby bottles currently on the market are made of polycarbonate, parents have a right to be concerned. The National Environmental Trust recommends switching to polycarbonate-free baby bottles, like those manufactured from glass or from #5 PP.

Plastics in the Microwave

While a "microwave-safe" or "microwavable" label on plastic containers only means that they shouldn't melt, crack or fall apart when used in the microwave, the label is no guarantee that containers don't leach chemicals into foods when heated. The USDA also warns on its website against microwaving in single-use containers not intended for that purpose, such as takeout platters and margarine tubs. According to the FDA, microwave-safe plastic wrap should be placed loosely over food so that the steam can escape and should not directly touch your food.

For safety's sake, it's best not to heat foods in plastic and use ovenproof glass or ceramic containers with covers. Never use plastic storage bags, grocery bags, newspapers or aluminum foil in the microwave.

Shopping Suggestions

Food Packaging and Storage, Cups, Plates, Utensils, Water Bottles

Look for

Avoid

Code

Brand Name

Code

Brand Name

#2 HDPE

Betras USA Sport Bottles

Betras USA Nestable Quart

Betras LongNeck Bottles

Carlisle Store 'N Pour 4 Quart square

FMP Quart Bottle with lid and spout

Impact Stackrack Jug 5 Gal.

Nalgene Wide Mouth Round 1 Quart

Playtex Straw Cups

Tupperware FreezeSmart

Tupperware Ice Cube Tray

Tupperware Ice Tups Set

Tupperware Jel-Ring Mold

#3 PVC

Arrow Clear View Pitcher

Arrow Sip-A-Mug (base only)

Arrow Sip-N-Stor Cups

Arrow Translucent Sip-A-Tumbler (base only)

Betras USA Clear Sport Bottles

Betras USA Swirl Bottles

Polyvinyl Films stretch-tite All-Purpose Food Wrap

Polyvinyl Films freeze-tite All-Purpose Food Wrap

Reynolds Wrap

#4 LDPE

BestYet Clear Plastic Wrap

Bell Brand Athletic Squeeze Bottles (colors) Brita Fill & Go Water Filtration Bottle

Glad Cling Wrap

Glad Food Storage Bags

Glad Freezer Bags

Glad-Lock Bags

Glad Sandwich Bags

Hefty Baggies

Hefty OneZip Slider Bags

Saran Cling Plus

Ziploc Bags

Ziplock Double Guard Freezer Bags

#6

All Styrofoam Cups and Containers

Arrow Clear Measuring Cups

Kingsmen Plastic Cutlery (Maryland Plastic)

Sweetheart Plastic Cutlery

Sweetheart Translucent Storage Containers

Sweetheart Translucent Plastic Cups

Ullman Bowls and Platters (all)

Wandas Expanding Bread Box

#5 PP

Arrow Canteen

Arrow Colored Measuring Cups

Betras USA Monster Mugs

Betras USA Insulated Travel Mugs

Betras USA Thermo Mugs

C&K Manufacturing Flash Chill 2 Liter Plastic

The Container Store Tellfresh Snack Box

The Container Store Tellfresh Screw-Top

The Container Store Tellfresh Oblong

Gladware Containers (all)

Playtex Spill-Proof Cups (lids #2)

Rubbermaid (all food storage containers)

Rubbermaid Sipper Seal

Rubbermaid Chuggables Bottles

Rubbermaid Pitchers (colors)

Rubbermaid Sippin’ Sport Bottles

Sterilite (all containers, bowls, pitchers, tumblers)

Sweetheart Round Storage Containers

The Container Store Stack-N-Store Containers

The Container Store FreshDate Containers

The Container Store Rectangular Bulk Food Storage

Tupperware Bowls (all)

Tupperware Crystal Wave Microwave Containers

Tupperware Modular Mates

Tupperware Quick Shake Containers

Tupperware One Touch Reminder Canister

Ziploc Containers (all)

Ziploc Table Tops Bowls

#7

5-Gallon Bottles for Water Coolers (most)

Ashton Green Pitchers and Plastic Drinkware

Camwear Pitchers

Carlisle VersaPour Pitcher

Click Clack Classic White Storage Containers

Click Clack Airtight Accents Storage Containers

Rubbermaid Bouncer Rugged Plastic Pitcher

Rubbermaid Stain Shield Storage Containers

Strahl DaVinci Pitcher

Strahl Plates

Sweetheart Clear Storage Containers

Tango Pitchers and Glassware

Terrazza Unbreakable Plastic Tableware

Wombat Ware Pitchers and Glassware

Tupperware Rock ‘n Serve Containers

 

Baby/Kids' Items

Look for

Avoid

Code

Brand Name

Code

Brand Name

Glass

Lamby Glass Baby Bottles

Evenflo Glass Baby Bottles

#3

Evenflo Soft Bite Spoon "Vinyl, PVC-free"

#4

Playtex Disposable Baby Bottle Liners

Evenflo Baby Bottles (opaque, pastel)

 

 

#5

Arrow Sip-A-Bowl

Avent Soft Spout Training Cups

Gerber Fashion Tint Bottles (colored)

Gerber Fun Grips Spill Proof Cups

Gerber ‘Lil Sport Bottles Spill Proof Cups

Medela Baby Cups

Medela Baby Bottles and Feeders

Sassy E-Z Grip Cups

Sassy E-Z Grip First Feeding Bowls

Sassy Ideal Temp Feeding Spoons

Sassy Less Mess Toddler Bowls

Sassy Less Mess Toddler Spoons

Sassy MAM Spill-Proof Cups

Sassy Temperature Sensitive Forks and Spoons

The First Years Peek-A-Boo Cups

The First Years Tumble Mates

The First Years Winnie the Pooh Trainer Cups

#7

Avent Baby Bottles

Evenflo Baby Bottles (clear, untinted)

Gerber Baby Bottles (clear)

Gerber Looney Tunes Spill Proof Cups

Gerber Suzy’s Zoo Spill Proof Cups

First Sipster Trainer Cup

Playtex Kinder-Grip Bottles

Sassy MAM 3-Step Baby Bottles

The First Years Baby Bottles

Tuppercare Baby Bottles

VentAire Bottle

Tips and Alternatives

Here are a few suggestions you can follow to reduce plastics and toxic exposure in your home:

• Avoid single-use, disposable packaging

• Buy food in glass or metal containers

• Avoid heating food in plastic containers

• Avoid storing fatty foods, such as meat and cheese, in plastic containers or plastic wrap

• Bring your own containers to salad bars, yogurt shops, etc.--anywhere you'll be served in plastic

• Avoid plastic cutlery and dinnerware, especially when cooking or heating food; use stainless steel or wooden utensils and look for recycled paper products.

• Use wood instead of plastic cutting boards and spray your wooden board with a mist of vinegar, then with a mix of hydrogen peroxide, to kill bacteria

• When purchasing cling-wrapped food from the supermarket or deli, slice off a thin layer where the food came into contact with the plastic and store the rest in a glass or ceramic container, or non-PVC cling wrap (see Shopping Suggestions)

• You can also write a letter to manufacturers of food and drink packaged in plastics, indicating your concern about plastics--especially if their packaging is #3, #6 or #7. Tell them you are actively seeking products packaged in safe, reusable glass, metal and recycled paper. Ask manufacturers for a mailing address by calling their toll-free question/comment line, usually listed on the back of the product; alternatively, you can find their mailing address on their website.

http://www.thegreenguide.com/reports/product.mhtml?id=44&sec=3

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