Not all plastics marked with a 7 contain BPA.

If a plastic contains BPA, that makes it a polycarbonate plastic, and its recycling number will be 7.

However, not all plastics marked with a 7 are polycarbonate plastics.

How come? Because while numbers 1 through 6 are used to designate specific types of plastic, the 7 is a catch-all to designate everything else.

This can get particularly confusing when you come across a plastic that feels like polycarbonate, has the recycling number 7 on its base, but still isn’t polycarbonate. In other words, it doesn’t contain BPA.

As an example, this morning I purchased a Nalgene water bottle. The plastic is hard and impact resistant, and it has the number 7 on its based. All signs that this is a polycarbonate plastic with BPA.

Not so. It is made from Eastman Tritan copolyester, which doesn’t contain BPA.

It is marked #7, because this plastic type doesn’t fall within categories 1 to 6.

Confusing, right?

As a general rule, if a plastic is hard and has the #7 on its base, it probably contains BPA.

If it doesn’t, the manufacturer will probably add a label or tag to the item, proudly announcing that it is BPA-free.

You can buy Nalgene BPA-free water bottle at most outdoors stores, or through


Further reading:

Bad plastics...

Safe plastics...

Alternatives to plastics...