Wednesday, April 7, 2010



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. 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.


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.

GP recommends:

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.

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 and Laptop Lunches

Gladware containers and lids (all).

Ziploc containers and lids (all)

Farberware/ Frye Citrus, Fresh Keeper and Monterrey containers & lids; leak-proof seals use BPA-free #1 polyethylene (PET)

The Container Store Klip It and Tellfresh (#5)

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.

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.


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

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
Hefty Baggies

Reynolds Clear Seal-Tight plastic wrap


(from Do One Green Thing: Saving the Earth through Simple, Everyday Choices)


#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,, where you can also send me an email and ask me questions.

Mindy Pennybacker


PET Resin Association said...

Please note that PET plastic (polyester), which is used for many beverage bottles and food containers -- Recycling Code #1 -- does NOT contain DEHP, BPA or any phthalates.

GreenFemme said...

While it is indeed widely acknowledged that PET plastic is not made with phthalates, a number of studies have found phthalates in PET-bottled water, particularly after it has been stored for several months, or heated. A quite recent study in Environmental Health Perspectives provides an overview and critique of these studies. My conclusion? Another good reason not to buy bottled water as a precaution that's also very green.,%20Soda,%20and%20Food%20Simulants

GreenFemme said...

The same EHP study I cite above raises concerns about antimony, a hormone disrupting metal, leaching from PET plastic bottles into water.

blue said...

I have read that canned foods,including Mason Jars, baby foods and pet foods and tomato products, all contain BPA. Is this true??

GreenFemme said...

Good question. Mason jars, the classic glass ones, have no BPA; glass is a stable and non-leaching material, hence tempered (heat resistant) glass is the safest thing you can microwave food in.
Canned food of any kind, whether for people or pets, and including infant formula, is lined with BPA-containing resins, with a few exceptions, including the non-tomato cans used by Eden Foods.

Unknown said...


Great Blog!

Is it safe to drink hot beverages (like coffee) in the rubbermaid sip containers? Do their straws leak any hazardous chemicals while they are in contact with the hot liquid?


GreenFemme said...

Hi Sergio,
As a simple precaution, it's best not to consume coffee or any other hot liquids & foods in any kind of plastic. Even "microwave safe," non-polycarbonate plastics, the type that Rubbermaid Sips are made of, have been found to leach Bisphenol-A. Haven't seen research specifically on straws, but since they're plastic, I'd keep 'em away from heat, too.
Thanks for asking!

Unknown said...

What people do not realize is that there are actually good and bad Plastic Food Storage Containers. Only the best products will keep your food from spoiling the longest.

GreenFemme said...

How true! You link to Rubbermaid Tritan plastic food containers, which are not made with BPA; Tritan is the #7 plastic alternative to Lexan, which did contain Bisphenol-A. Still, food and drink should never be heated in even the "best" plastics. While plastic is light and convenient for toting, when it comes to heating I prefer ceramic or tempered glass.

Anonymous said...

Canned food of any kind, whether for people or pets, and including infant formula, is lined with BPA-containing resins, with a few exceptions, including the non-tomato cans used by Eden Foods.

JenniferClement said...

Does anyone know if the Bakers & Chefs brand of Professional Plastic Food Wrap Film (from Sam's Club) is safe? I just bought some and will take it back if it isn't. Thanks!

Unknown said...

I am very confused by this issue. I have all BPA-free, #7 plastic bottles. Are these safe?

I also have Rubber Maid, BPA-free, no # on the bottom. I see a "7M22".

Copco bpa-free smoothie travel cup with straw.

GreenFemme said...

So long as you don't heat your BPA-free drink cups and bottles, they should be quite safe. In my blog, above, you'll note that tests find that eve BPA-free plastics have been found to release the chemical when heated in microwaves, so keep 'em cool! For coffee, soups and hot chocolate, a ceramic or glass-insulated stainless mug are safest.
Hope that answers your question!

Unknown said...

Thanks, GreenFemme! I was told that the hard #7 plastic was carcinogenic, even though I have BPA free. I appreciate your response!

Unknown said...

I have a couple more questions for you.

1. I have a Copco smoothie cup that says it's BPA free.
-- Do you know if the straw and lid are also BPA free?

2. What do we do about the plastic coffee pot lids for drip coffee makers?
-- I have been drinking coffee out of these pots for years, both at home and at work. And the coffee first passes through the lid when it's being made, then it totally passes the lid when it's being poured out.

GreenFemme said...

Good question, "Unknown." Coffee is acidic, hot liquid. I will have to investigate and get back to you. Meanwhile, can you investigate by calling the manufacturer of your straws and cup and asking what kind of plastic their bpa-free is? Is it #4, 5, 6 or 7 (bpa -free #7 would be Tritan, not Lexan polyester). Let me know.

GreenFemme said...

Just checked the plastic cap of our coffee pot in the coffemaker. It is PP #5 (polypropylene). This plastic does not contain BPA, however, when heated in microwaves it has been found to release BPA into food and liquid. So coffeemakers are probably one source of our daily exposure to BPA! Alas. Time to find one of those glass Melita drip pots and insert the reusable gold cone filter.

Unknown said...

Thanks, GreenFemme. I had already contacted copco to find out if their straws & lids are BPA free as well, and they are. I will now ask what type of plastic they are.

Unknown said...

About the coffee makers. Not just the lids, but the plastic containers for the water and the heating elements.

Unknown said...

If a plastic doesn't contain BPA, how is BPA released when heated?

Unknown said...

GreenFemme, here is the response about the Copco BPA free smoothie cups. They don't actually give a number.


Thank you for your interest in Copco Products.

These cups are good reusable everyday cup. It is a Durable BPA free construction

There is no latex in it anywhere it is a homopolymer polypropylene and per the manufacturer’s data meets the FDA requirement in the code of federal regulations in 21 CFR 177.1520 for food contact. The hand grip it a TPE Thermo Plastic Elastomer,

Lid and body – polypropylene
Gasket – silicone
Brown wrap – TPE
Bottom pad – TPE
All are BPA free

Lid and body – polypropylene
Gasket – silicone
Colored wrap – TPE
Bottom pad – TPE
Straw- polypropylene

It is a petroleum based product. Petroleum based products are widely used for thousands upon thousands of household, medical, health /beauty, clothing, automotive, construction, and sporting goods products. Polypropylene is one of the most widely used petroleum based materials because it is reasonably environmentally friendly and extremely safe for use on food contact products for both infants and adults alike.

We appreciate your business.

Unknown said...

Interesting article from July, 2011. I found this on the internet, so I certainly cannot vouch for its veracity.

Unknown said...

GreenFemme. Is the response from the cosco cup company (detailing the plastics in their smoothie cups) reasonably safe?

T said...

I have an Always Learning brand no spill child beaker that has a soft silicone type material around where the liquid comes out and a harder plastic around other parts. the company is no longer but i found someone at the company that owned them that said it is made from PP & TPE. Can you tell me anything about those plastics & if they are relatively safe? I never microwave plastic but they do go through the dishwasher sometimes. Any help you can give would be greatly appreciated.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

We have moved from plastic to stainless steel and glass wherever possible. We found this company that created a whole line of stainless steel to give their family healthier alternatives. We love their products!!!

Unknown said...

We love the stainless steel products from a company in Vancouver who sought alternatives for their young family and started designing their own. They have stainless steel popsicle molds, "ice cubes," ice cube trays, watertight containers, and lots more!

Unknown said...

I have two questions for you.

I store my drinking water in #2 plastic gallon jugs. They are stored at room temperature. Is this safe?

I have noticed that most spices, condiments, shampoos, etc are stored in #1 plastics. Are these safe?

Thank you!