Is it safe to reuse your plastic water bottles? You will find the answer to be both yes and no. I have found research to support both sides. The FDA has assured us that the plastic used to make the water bottles are safe for first-time as well as repeated use provided you properly clean your bottles with warm, soapy water to prevent any concern for possible bacteria growth.
On the other hand, you have those studies that indicate that these bottles are not safe for multiple uses due to leaching of chemicals and can actually cause harm if not used properly. It comes down to making a personal decision based on all the information provided.
The Society of the Plastics Industry devised a method by marking plastics using a number within a triangle (a code) indicating the type of plastic, its purpose of use, and how it is recycled.
- #1 PET or (PETE) Polyethylene terephthalate, is commonly found in 2 –liter soft drinks bottles, water bottles, cooking oil bottles, peanut butter jars. It is considered the safest for water bottle use. However, it is suggested for one-time use to prevent any leaching or possible bacteria growth.
- #2 HDPE High-density polyethylene, is commonly found in detergent bottles and milk jugs. Considered safe.
- #3 PVC Polyvinylchloride, is commonly found in plastic pipes, outdoor furniture, siding, floor tiles, shower curtains, non-food bottles, clamshell packaging, and clear wraps. Not considered to be safe. Possible leaching of dioxins into the air when heated.
- #4 LDPE Low-density polyethylene, is commonly found in dry-cleaning bags, produce bags, trash can liners, and food storage containers. Considered safe.
- #5 PP, Polypropylene, is commonly found in bottle caps, straws, yogurt containers. Considered safe, but does not recycle well.
- #6 PS, Polystyrene, is commonly found in packing peanuts, cups, plastic utensils, Styrofoam, clamshell food containers. Can leach styrene or vinyl benzene. Considered “a suspected carcinogen” according to the EPA.
- #7 (Other), Usually Polycarbonate which contains Bisphenol-A (BPA), which is commonly used in plastic baby bottles, five-gallon water containers, and sports bottles. Controversial and considered not to be safe.
Watch for these numbers on the bottom of your bottled water and drinks.
All materials that are intended for food storage, which includes water bottles, are evaluated by the FDA for safety. The FDA knows that any plastic has the potential to leach small amounts of chemicals depending on how they are used, but has determined that small amounts are not a risk to our health. You be the judge. However, for young children and pregnant mothers, we should err on the side of caution.