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What Type of Plastic Is Used in My Water Bottle?

bpa free, recycleable water bottle, recycled material, safe water bottles, dishwasher safe water bottlesYou’ve probably noticed on your water bottle the small number surrounded by three arrows pointing in the shape of a triangle.  This “resin identification code”, loosely referred to as a “recycling code”, indicates the type of plastic used to manufacture water bottles. Resin Identification Codes:

The recycling code system was developed by the plastics industry in 1988 to meet recyclers’ needs for identifying plastic types.

Following are the plastic codes and common bottle applications:


Common Bottle 
Health and Safety 



Beverage-filled disposable bottles (i.e., spring water, juice, sports drinks)

Although PET has a low risk of leaching toxins, it is only meant for one-time use.  Bacterial contamination is a key risk of re-use.



Milk Jugs, Juice Bottles

Generally regarded as safe.




Can potentially release toxins if heated.



Sqeezable, Reusable Water Bottles

Generally regarded as safe.



Sqeezable, Reusable Water Bottles

Generally regarded as safe.




Can potentially release toxins.



Hard clear and colored water bottles; 3-5 gallon Reusable Water Bottles.

This is a catch-all category for plastics; and certain of these may leach BPA.

 Does the Plastic Type indicate Safety?

Water bottle safety has received a lot of attention lately, and rightfully so.  The public has a right to know the potential health risks with their water bottles, such as those tied to BPA.

BPA is a term I wasn’t even aware of 5 years ago, and now it’s become one of the most important considerations consumers make when buying a water bottle.  Because BPA is not outlawed in the US, and not even required to be disclosed on the product, it is smart for consumers to recognize if their plastic water bottle contains BPA, and make their own decisions regarding use.

What is BPA?

According to the FDA website, Bisphenol A (BPA) is an industrial chemical that has been present in many hard plastic bottles and metal-based food and beverage cans since the 1960s.  The FDA is currently performing studies to clarify the uncertainties about the risks of BPA, including potential effects of BPA on the brain, behavior, and prostate gland in fetuses, infants and young children.

Is BPA Regulated?

Unlike the US, BPA levels are aggressively restricted in food contact products in other countries, including Japan, Canada and European countries.  In Japan, for example, all water bottles brought into the country for sale must first be product tested and certified from an approved testing facility, to ensure the product meets defined safety guidelines for specific toxins, including BPA and phthalates.

Which Bottles are Safest?

Water bottles labeled with a 2, 4, and 5 are the safest to use and reuse.  #5 bottles have a very high melting point, which makes usage in the dishwasher (top and bottom racks) safer.  Bottles used for purchased water (#1) are also safe, but for one time use only.

How Can I Minimize My Risk?

Read the manufacturer guidelines to determine if your bottle can be exposed to extreme temperatures, such as the dishwasher and freezer.  Beware, though, there are different levels of “dishwasher safe” bottles.  Some may not survive the process as well as others, resulting in leaks, especially those made from LDPE.  If in doubt, it may be best to wash your bottles by hand.

Also, you may want to contact your water bottle manufacturer to find out what steps they take to ensure their bottles are safe.

 Source of Information:

    1. American Chemistry Council, Plastic Packaging Resin Identification Codes
    2. US Food and Drug Administration, “Bisphenol A (BPA): Use in Food Contact Application”
    3. Natural Resources Defense Council, Plastic Water Bottles, Is BPA-free” the Same as Safe? 

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Permanent link to this article: http://relaj.com/good-hydration/2012/05/what-type-of-plastic-is-used-in-my-water-bottle/

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  1. Gary W Saulnier

    375 ml empty Malibu Rum pint containers of hard white plastic is what the wife & I freeze our drinking water in for sleep dry mouth refreshment when it thaws to drink . A is surrounded with a circle 1 has a triangle around it 05 and 3155 are also printed on each container . We have used the containers for a cool drink for years, ARE we in any danger of doing what we do with this style of plastic ??????? Remember Is Freezing the important part of this question !!!!!!!!

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