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Lots of Controversy Around #4 Plastic

Lots of Controversy Around #4 Plastic

FACT: Plastic is a material that can only be down cycled. This means when it is “recycled” it can only be turned into less valuable items.

Plastic bags and bottles, like all forms of plastic, create significant environmental, health, and economic problems. Plastic production Plastic 4 - LDPEuses expansive amounts of fossil fuels. Plastic creates litter, hurts marine life and degrades the environment in numerous ways. In the United States we are producing over 25 million tons of plastics per year of which only a trivial fraction of which is getting recycled. Today we look at LDPE, one of the most controversial plastics.

Low density polyethylene (LDPE) is one of the most controversial, and common, plastics. LDPE, or #4 plastic, is what is used to make grocery store bags, some bottles, most plastic wrap, six-pack rings, food trays, food storage containers, bread bags, and frozen food packaging.


Like the other plastics mentioned this week #4 plastic should never be used while heating up food as it leaches carcinogens that lead to developmental delays, reproductive challenges, asthma, and immune system deficiency.


#4 plastic, grocery bags in particular, create lots of litter. Even when thrown into the garbage, plastic bags easily blow away. These bags are distracting on highways, and clog storm sewer systems. Given that plastic breaks down into smaller more toxic pieces small plastic particles get into our soil, waterways, air, and food supplies. Plastic bags are also responsible for harm to sea life. Sea turtles, and other marine mammals, ingest plastic bags thinking they’re food.


Plastic bags are difficult, costly, and not economical to recycle. One ton of recycled plastic derived from plastic bags can only be sold for an average of $32. When recycled LDPE can be used to create plastic lumber, trash cans, plastic furniture, film, and garbage liners. To find your closest #4 plastic recycling center use Earth 911.


To eliminate the use of the most common type of #4 plastic, the plastic grocery bag, make sure to use your reusable shopping bags when shopping for food, at the mall, when grabbing take out, or at the convenient store. To reduce your use of other #4 plastic look for foods at the grocery store that have minimum packaging.

Tags: #4 plastic, LPDE, bag, environmental impact, health impact, plastic, recycle

Posted in: Green Living, Rise Above Plastic

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