Are all Plastic Buckets Food Grade?

This is a question I’ve been asked quite a few times and the answer is no. You need to look at the symbols on the plastic container and what the bucket has been made from to determine if you can store products to be consumed safely in the bucket or pot.

Symbols

Different plastic have different numbers within the recycling arrow triangle to denote their material type. Not all plastics can be hot filled, not all are suitable for food containers.

Our pots and buckets are made from polypropylene. They have PP and a number 5 on the base surrounded by the recycle logo. Polypropylene has a high resistance to heat and a high melting point making it ideal for hot filling. It is a strong material, resistant to cracking and stress with good chemical resistance. The full technical specification for each pot or bucket can be found on the manufacturers technical data sheet. Some of our lids are Polyethylene with a number 2 and PE on the base. This is a slightly more flexible plastic polymer, which is especially handy for lids which are repeatedly removed. It is still safe for food use and has a high melting point, so can be used for hot filling.

The quickest way to tell if a container is food safe is to look for the wine glass and fork symbol. If you see it, you’re probably ok, but still check for the certification.

Food Safe Glass and Fork

Certification

Always check with your supplier to ask for certification if you need a food safe product. A BRC or ISO certificate will give you the reassurance that your product is safe to use and sell on to your customer. Our buckets, pots and pharmaceutical pots are all virgin plastic and are all food safe with certificate available.

Virgin Plastic

Virgin plastic is one that has not been recycled, it was brand new plastic granules in its last form, and is now a food grade bucket or pot, as long as it is certified as such. Any plastic that has been recycled, such as PCR (we’ll talk about that in a different blog) is not virgin, and therefore cannot be 100% guaranteed to be free from contaminants. The plastic could have been a container for peanuts previously or it could have been a paint tin lid. The risk of contamination is too great, so a non food grade bucket shouldn’t be used to contain food.

Some food grade pots are sold as recycled, but there should be a percentage that is virgin. These recycled containers have a special layer of virgin plastic between the recycled material and the surface that the food will be in contact with. As long as the virgin layer is certified as not allowing the migration of particles from the recycled layer into the food, then this will still be food safe.

Re-Use or Recycle

We actively promote them to be recycled or reused, we don’t want them ending up in the bin. Our containers can be washed out and reused. If you don’t need to reuse them, simply wash them out and pop them in the recycling as they are 100% recyclable. Please check with your local recycling centre first though.

Polypropylene