Marking of tableware

Nowadays websites, shops, markets are full of a variety of all kinds of tableware. But how to make the right choice in seconds?
You should be guided by the marking indicated on the products. It is marking that informs the consumer about the basic properties of the goods. Let’s look at this in more detail and find out what the signs on the plastic utensils and packaging symbolize.


Let’s start with the definition of bioplastic.
Bioplastics is a general term for polymeric materials having one of these properties: fully or partially obtained from renewable plant materials and capable of decomposition under the influence of natural microorganisms.

We can distinguish products made of biodegradable plastic from these icons:

Compostable. This kind of bioplastic decomposes in the special conditions. For the complete decomposition it needs water and soil.

Biodegradable. This icon indicates a material that is able to decompose in nature.

Other. This icon is placed in all other types of bioplastic.


Sometimes it seems that all plastic utensils are the same and it is very difficult to understand difference.

But it’s not! Such dishes are made of several types of plastic. The most popular have their own designations. Manufacturers have developed an “alphabet” of intuitive icons. The most important of them are analyzed below!

Labeling of food grade plastics

Nowadays plastic is so popular that it is difficult to imagine its complete disappearance from everyday life. We see it everywhere: from the plastic cup to the bumper of the car. Development of rules of plastic marking has taken years of work to bring order to the processing and utilization of plastic.

Labelling of plastic containers and utensils for food products requires a special approach. After all, here we are talking about human health. A special sign of the triangle with a number inside it (Möbius loop) is used to indicate the material from which the goods are made.

This triangle is not an industry mark, but is created to help inform the customer who wants to buy products without plastic packaging. It makes it clear that the material can be recycled.

The European Commission 97/129/EC divided plastic into the following groups:

Polyethylene terephthalate is the most popular type of plastic. It is used for the production of disposable bottles, cans, containers for bottling soft drinks, juices, water. PET is easy to recycle, but such packaging can be used only once. When re-used, it begins to emit substances  harmful to humans.

High density polyethylene of low pressure is used to manufacture the toys and products contacting with food such as sports and tourist bottles, containers for milk. It is considered non-toxic, safe while contacting with food, resistant to temperature influences.

— PVC (V)
Polyvinyl chloride is potentially hazardous for food use. But some manufacturers continue to produce from it bottles for sunflower oil. This plastic is widely used for the production of windows, pipes, bottles for household chemicals. PVC is very difficult to recycle, and when it is burned carcinogens, that cause serious health problems are emitted into the air.

Polyethylene of low density of high pressure is used to manufacture the soft plastic packaging, films and plastic bags. It can be recycled and is relatively safe for use in the food industry.

 — PP
Polypropylene is a relatively harmless, durable and heat resistant plastic. Most often this marking can be found on toys, food packages. For example, it is usually used to store yogurts, syrups, sauces. Polypropylene is easy to recycle.

 — PS
Polystyrene is only used to store products that do not require heating (for example, soft drinks or chilled dishes). Experts recommend to refrain from using tableware made of this material, because when heated polystyrene releases carcinogenic poison — styrene.

Other types of plastic. This group includes all other plastics that are not widespread and for this reason are not  marked. These plastic include: all types of bioplastics (including corn starch, cellulose, sugar cane, algae…), polycarbonate, polyamide and others.

Signs on plastic tableware

In addition to all mentioned symbols on plastic tableware, you can also find other important signs:

Marker “glass-fork” informs that the product is completely safe for humans. Such dishes are made of non-toxic material and can be used in contact with food. If this icon is crossed out or is completely absent on the plastic product, it is not intended for food.

Microwave sign on plastic container says that food can be heated in it. Such packing remains safe for the person even after heating.

The icon “snowflake” symbolizes the possibility of storage in the refrigerator. The image of several snowflakes together informs that the products in this package can be stored in the freezer. This material can be frozen/defrozen.

Marker “temperature differential” indicates that the product retains its specific properties when different temperature regimes.

Sign the “high impact tableware” indicates the high durability of the product.

The “Apple” marker indicates that the material allows to preserve the useful properties of the product.

Möbius loop (without additional letters and numbers) is put on 100% natural material that does not harm health and is recyclable.


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Marking of tableware