What Plastics are safe to grow food in?



Its a common perception that all plastics are harmful to grow food in and should be avoided completely. Some people saying that using plastics to grow vegetables and fruits defeats the very idea of growing naturally or organically. Though it is true that plastic products are not natural, what will landless people use to grow their own food? They can opt to buy inexpensive plastic pots sure, but that would be spending more money, and most people grow their own food to save money. Re-using plastic containers is cheaper and it gives the object one more use before being recycled.

There are other materials that can be used of course, like wooden pallets but sometimes supplies are not always available and they don’t last very long. Using plastic containers to grow food is fine – provided you know which plastics to use. Some plastics are harmful and leach toxins to the soil especially when they are heated or exposed to sunlight or prolonged periods of time.  Make sure to discard scratched or worn down plastic containers to avoid leaching of chemicals.

Common plastic containers used for growing:

  • Food-grade 15-30 Litre buckets
  • Plastic bins (totes)
  • Yogurt and deli containers

Using Plastic Containers for Food: Scientific Study


1 – Clear plastic bottles

2 – “Cloudy” milk and water jugs, opaque food bottles.

4 – Food storage bags and squeeze bottles.

5 –  Rigid containers, including some baby bottles, and some cups and bowls, containers usually used for yogurt.


3 – Vinyl, some ‘soft’ bottles and commercial cling wraps

6 – Polysterene, styrofoam, plastic wrap, un-numbered plastics

7 – Polycarbonate etc

6 thoughts on “What Plastics are safe to grow food in?”

    1. Yes, that shouldn’t be a problem in the short-term, however despite the harder plastics being a bit safer, the problem of leaving them in those containers revolves around the fact that many plants need to have new soil when the season changes or their roots will continue to grow and sometimes take up the entire containers and they would flourish in a new, bigger, drainable container with fresh soil.

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