The products in the following list are made of plastics that have not been found to release the worrisome chemicals Bisphenol-A (BPA) or phthalates, both linked to abnormal development, or carcinogenic styrene into food, heated or not.
Top plastics to avoid are Polycarbonate, with the recycling # 7, made with BPA, PVC, #3, made with phthalates, and polystyrene #6, made with styrene.
Quick check: What’s the number? Turn it upside down. Good and bad plastics are usually identified by a recycling code number* stamped on the bottom inside the chasing arrows triangle. No number? Check the the list below. Not there? When in doubt, don’t buy!
*See the Choose It/ Lose It plastics by recycling numbers, below, excerpted from my new book, Do One Green Thing. http://stmartins.com/doonegreenthing. Note: #7 is a catch-all code that encompasses several different plastics.
Caution: Never microwave in plastics, even those labeled “microwave safe.” Studies have shown that any plastic can release BPA at high temperatures.
TOP REUSABLE PLASTIC CONTAINERS
Choose Reusable Food Ware made of #5 Polypropylene (PP)
While not widely recyclable, PP is safely reusable.
Quick check: Is it clear or cloudy? Polycarbonate (#7PC) is mostly clear and transparent; #5 PP has a milky, opaque look.
Recycline food containers, dishes, kichenware and cutlery (all #5). A GP tippety-top green pick, Recycline uses 100 percent recycled #5 plastic, including yogurt containers you can drop off at many Whole Foods stores. http://www.preserveproducts.com/
Also PP are Martha Stewart Collection plastic food containers in handy sets, sold at Macy's.
Lunchbox/ picnic lidded sandwich & food containers from Reusable Bags http://www.reusablebags.com/store/lunch-bags-food-containers-c-4_20.html and Laptop Lunches http://www.laptoplunches.com/
Gladware containers and lids (all). http://www.glad.com/containers/gladware_containers.php?utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_term=gladware&utm_campaign=SEM-Brand
Ziploc containers and lids (all)
Farberware/ Frye http://fryeintl.com/aboutourproducts.php Citrus, Fresh Keeper and
The Container Store Klip It and Tellfresh (#5) http://www.containerstore.com/shop/kitchen/foodStorage/leftoversPlastic?viewAll=true
Rubbermaid (mostly all #5), a GP tippety-top pick for disclosure of its materials, the company provides a list of its BPA-free products here. http://www.rubbermaid.com/Pages/LearnAboutBPA.aspx
Don’t choose: Rubbermaid’s Premier, Stainshield and Elegan containers, and Chug and Sip bottles with the #7 (PC) on the bottom, or EasyFinds containers, which had trace amounts of BPA and phthalates in Good Housekeeping tests**, but lids were fine.
Tupperware (mostly #5 or #7 (PES); leak-proof seals use #1 PET) . Tupperware’s new product line, released in April, 2010, contains NO PC, hurray! Its microwaveable products are now #7 PES, which is PC-free.
Don’t choose: Tupperware’s PC #7 Rock n’ Serve microwave line and Elegant serving ware. Although no longer being produced, they may still appear on store shelves or at yard sales. http://www.tupperware-blog.com/tupperware-overview/is-tupperware-cancer-causing-38/
TOP PLASTIC FOOD WRAPS AND BAGS
Caution: Cling wraps on most deli counter meats & cheeses are #3 PVC, which contains toxic phthalates. The following are made of #4 LDPE (low-density polyethylene), a plastic that has not been found to leach BPA or phthalates.
Natural Value Plastic Wrap and Sandwich Bags http://www.greenfeet.com/itemdesc.asp?kw=Natural-Value-Plastic-Wrap-No-PVC&ic=6007-00067-0000&eq=
Best Yet Clear Plastic Wrap
Glad Cling Wrap and Freezer Storage Bags (most)
Don’t choose: Glad Press n’ Seal and Food Storage Bags, contained trace amounts of BPA and phthalates in GH tests. **
Saran Cling Plus
Ziploc Food Storage and Freezer Bags
Reynolds Clear Seal-Tight plastic wrap
CHOOSE IT/ LOSE IT PLASTICS BY THE NUMBERS
(from Do One Green Thing: Saving the Earth through Simple, Everyday Choices)
CHOOSE IT: NON-LEACHING WHEN USED CORRECTLY
#1 PET or PETE (polyethylene terephthalate) containers are the most recyclable, but not so healthy to reuse. Studies indicate that with worn or heated PET containers may release di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate, linked to hormone disruption and cancer.
#2 HDPE (high-density polyethylene) is widely recyclable.
#4 LDPE (low-density polyethylene) is used in some food wraps and sandwich bags.
#5 PP (polypropylene) is not generally recyclable, but safe to reuse.
#7 PES (polyether sulfone) is BPA-free, according to Consumer Reports. ***
#7 PLA (bioplastic made from corn, sugarcane, etc.) is not recyclable in most cities, nor is it compostable except in industrial composters using high temperatures.
#3 PVC (polyvinyl chloride, vinyl), releases carcinogenic dioxins during manufacturing and can leach hormone-disrupting phthalate plasticizers. PVC is used in many cling and stretch food wraps and films.
#6 PS (polystyrene), that white spongey stuff of takeout coffee cups and clamshells, can leach styrene, a possible human carcinogen, when heated or in contact with fatty foods. #7 (miscellaneous), includes polycarbonate plastic, which contains hormone-disrupting bisphenol A.
#7 PC (polycarbonate), clear plastic popular in sports bottles & food containers, is made with and has been found to release BPA.
Excerpted from my book Do One Green Thing: Saving the Earth Through Simple, Everyday Choices (St Martin's Press, 2010).
For more green news and product tips on food, cleaning, personal care, plastics and more, come to our home page, GreenerPenny.com, where you can also send me an email and ask me questions.