There’s a number on your food container. Here’s why you should find it & what it means

Did you know there was plastic that is bad for you? Natural Society has the scoop on the types of plastic we should stay away from
December 13, 2017 11:18 am Last Updated: December 13, 2017 11:18 am

Sometimes we do not realize how important the little things can be when it comes to our health. People work out to become more healthy and fit, and stop smoking cigarettes to reduce their chances of cancer, but has anyone ever thought of flipping their water bottle over and checking the recycling number on the bottom?

According to the Natural Society, the number at the bottom of the water bottles offers information on how safe the plastic is, specifically which toxic chemicals were used in the plastic. Here is a breakdown of numbers so you can make safer choices.

Plastic Type 1: This is found mostly in soda bottles, water bottles, beer bottles, salad dressing containers, mouthwash bottles, and peanut butter containers. It can breed bacteria, but is generally considered a safe plastic.

Plastic Type 2: This is mostly found in milk jugs, household cleaner containers, juice bottles, shampoo bottles, cereal box liners, detergent bottles, motor oil bottles, yogurt tubs, and butter tubs. It is usually opaque so you cannot see through them, but it is considered safe to use because of its lower risk of leaching.

(Flickr/Estaban Chiner)

Plastic Type 3: It’s found in shampoo bottles, clear food packaging, cooking oil bottles, medical equipment, piping, and windows. It is also used  to make food wrap, plumbing pipes, and detergent bottles. This plastic type is unsafe. Natural Society shares that “These plastics used to, and still may, contain phthalates, which are linked to numerous health issues ranging from developmental problems to miscarriages. They also contain DEHA, which can be carcinogenic with long-term exposure. DEHA has also been linked to loss of bone mass and liver problems. Don’t cook with or burn this plastic.

Plastic Type 4: This plastic is one of the three safest and is typically found in squeezable bottles, shopping bags, clothing, carpet, frozen food, bread bags, and some wraps. Natural Society marked this plastic as safe.

Plastic Type 5: This is marked as a safe plastic to use. It is found in found in yogurt containers, ketchup bottles, syrup bottles, and medicine bottles.


Plastic Type 6: Natural Society explained this plastic is hard to recycle, which means it is bad for the environment. “This kind of plastic also poses a health risk, leaching potentially toxic chemicals, especially when heated.” This is found in compact disc cases, egg cartons, meat trays, and disposable plates and cups.

Plastic Type 7: Found in sunglasses, iPod cases, computer cases, nylon, 3- and 5-gallon water bottles, and bullet-proof materials, this item is not good. “It’s a mix bag of plastics that includes polycarbonate, which contains the toxic bisphenol-A (BPA). These plastics should be avoided due to possibly containing hormone disruptors like BPA, which has been linked to infertility, hyperactivity, reproductive problems, and other health issues.”


The Natural Society recommends that you avoid containers with the numbers 1, 3, 6 and 7 as they have the most potential for breeding bacteria and/or chemical leaching. They also explain that plastic will still be used, but try to limit the use. They recommend using glass or investing in a water filtration system to get your water.