Day 256

Thinking about the different types of plastics that we can use for our plastic toys and plastic toy parts. I know nothing about plastics. Starting from ground zero. And, of course, I want to pick something safe, and, preferably, environmentally friendly.

Relevant laws:
U.S. and International Standards for BPA & Phthalates:
– ASTM F963

– EN 71 & ISO 8124

Generally, stay away from plastics marked as:
– #3 (to avoid PVCs)
– #7 (to avoid Pthalates)
– Unmarked
– Marked 1, 2, 4 or 5
– Marked PVC free
– Marked Pthalates free
– Marked BPA free

– Choose recycled for environmentally-friendly?

If something has an ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) label it means that the toy meets US safety standards. But, I am not sure consumers would know what an ASTM label even means.

A reputable toy company based in California, Green Toys, uses only the following materials, from recycled consumer products: HDPE high-density polyethylene (#2); PP recycled polypropylene (#5), and/or LDPE recycled low-density polyethylene (#4).

General low-down on the plastics labels commonly seen:

1. PET or PETE (polyethylene terephthalate)


Think: Plastic water bottles, cooking oil jugs, peanut butter containers
Properties: Thin, clear plastic
Safety: Safe for single use
Post-life: Can be recycled once

2. HDPE (high-density polyethylene) – SAFEST

Think: Plastic milk jugs, juice bottles, shampoo bottles, toys
Properties: Thicker, milkier, less see-through plastic
Safety: Safe to refill and reuse
Post-life: Recyclable once into stuff like #1 plastics

3. PVC (polyvinyl chloride) – AVOID


Think: Plastics used for mattress covers, squeeze bottles, cling wrap, some food and detergent containers
Safety: Carcinogenic
Post-life: Recyclable
*Avoid 3

The manufacturing process of PVC plastics releases something called Dioxin into the environment. Dioxin is a strong carginogen. Some PVC plastics also contain phthalates (something commonly used to soften plastics). Phthalates are linked to reproductive problems and birth defects. Workers in PVC plants have high cancer rates.

# 4: LDPE (low-density polyethylene) – SAFEST

Think: Plastic grocery bags, plastic wrap, garbage bags, some toys
Safety: A safer plastic
Post-life: Recyclable
# 5: PP (polypropylene) – SAFEST

Think: Yogurt containers, chocolate syrup bottles, drinking straws, diapers
Safety: A safer plastic
Post-life: Recyclable

# 6: PS (polystyrene) – AVOID

Think: Opaque plastics like plastic cutlery, and in styrofoam (expanded polystyrene or EPS), such as styrofoam coffee cups, packaging peanuts, meat trays used for raw meats; a subset is High Impact Polystyrene or HIPS (for example, clear plastic CD cases)
Safety: Leaches styrene; classified by EPA as possible human carcinogen
Post-life: Difficult to recycle; Usually not recyclable as part of co-mingle recycling programs (because contaminated EPS is difficult to clean and recycle); some cities have special EPS recycling programs

#7: Other (polycarbonate or PC, nylon, acrylic, and other) – AVOID unless Bio-Based
AVOID polycarbonate (PC) but OK to AS, ABS, SAN and Tritan

Think: – All over the place –
Safety: Sometimes safe (#7s include bio-based plastics, including plastics made from corn, rice, potatoes, etc.); But also sometimes unsafe (polycarbonate falls in this category as well and polycarbonate is BPA based)
Post-life: Some recycling programs accept #7s and others don’t …
(I also want to look into TPE material – thermo plastic elastomer … )