Plastic No. 1
Companies large and small are starting to turn to rather than petroleum. However, most plastics are still made from fossil fuels.
Plastics make up 11.7 percent of U.S. waste and are among the least-recycled items. The manufacture of plastics can involve the emission of toxic substances into the atmosphere. And when plastics are incinerated, toxics such as lead and chlorine are released.
Chemists have spun hundreds of kinds of plastics, but most common containers fall in one of seven categories. To help recycling centers sort landfill-bound plastics from those than can find life in new products, the Society of the Plastics Industry developed the numeric system to identify the type of plastic resins used.
One of the most common types of plastic is polyethylene terephthalate (PET or PETE), commonly found in bottles of soda, juice, water, and cough syrup, and jars of peanut butter. The bottoms of these containers are usually stamped with the chasing arrows symbol and the number 1, a code for PET.
An has warned people of cancer-causing chemicals leaching from water bottles left in hot cars, although PET is understood to be one of the least toxic forms of plastic.
The EPA no longer lists DEHA, a chemical used in PET, as a carcinogen. Contrary to what their name seems to suggest, PET plastics do not contain phthalate softeners, found in vinyl, which studies increasingly link to cancer and infertility.
Studies do show that PET bottles can leach toxic antimony, although at (PDF) by the World Health Organization. And doctors advise against reusing disposable plastic water bottles because they are hard to clean and can trap bacteria.
April 22, 2008 7:45 AM PDT
Photo by: Corinne Schulze/CNET News.com
| Caption by: Elsa Wenzel
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