Which Plastics Are Safe to Use as Containers to Grow Food?

Plastic is widely utilized in lawns, from the plumbing in sprinkler systems to the obstacles used to edge a walkway. However, when growing food, extra care ensures that no potentially harmful chemicals make their way from the plastic into the food. Plastics that satisfy the essential standards for growing meals are designed with specific attributes and tolerances.


Soil, water and roots shift and move above the plastic of a container constantly. Over time, this may lead to erosion, releasing tiny particles of the plastic to the soil. Even in trace quantities, this may cause contamination in plants and fruit. Because of this, thicker, hardy plastics are more acceptable for growing food.

Light Tolerant

One quality plastics used in food production need is just a tolerance of light. Growing fruits and vegetables involves exposing plants, and the containers that they develop in, to lots of light. Some chemicals used in plastics are affected by light and, while they could tolerate light from a reading lamp or a fluorescent tube, they break down after long exposure to the wide spectrum light from sunlight or from the light of grow lights.

Heat Tolerant

Needless to say, the light from sun or develop lamp will even heat up the plastic containers. This implies plastic containers used in food production must stand up to hours in temperatures as hot as 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Plastics that don’t hold up to the heat can begin to break down and leak toxic chemicals to the soil. Once in the soil, the chemicals may poison the plant by infiltrating its root system or simply accumulate within the plant’s leaves and fruit. These gathered toxins are often passed onto those ingesting the food created in unfit containers.

Recycle Number

Check the underside of any plastic container you intend to use for growing food. The amount on the underside in the recycle triangle symbol identifies the type of plastic used in manufacturing the container. Plastics that are safer for food production include polyethylene compounds, or recycling numbers 1, 2 and 4 along with polypropylene, or recycling amount 5. Dangerous plastics that are not great for growing containers include polyvinyl chloride, or PVC, which carries the recycling number 3 times, polystyrene which carries the recycling number 6 and polycarbonate, which carries the recycling number 7.

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