Certain Recycled Plastic Bottles Expose Drinks To More Chemicals
A study has found that a commonly used type of recycled plastic bottle passes more potentially harmful chemicals into their contents than the newly manufactured version of the same plastic bottle typically would.
The Situation: A study conducted by researchers at Brunel University London has revealed that drinks bottled using recycled Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET), the third most used type of plastic in food packaging, can leach 150 chemicals into their contents. Eighteen of those chemicals exceeded regulations. Less chemicals have shown to leach through PET plastic bottles when they are going through their original lifecycle.
• PET plastics are also one of the most found forms of plastic litter, making the ability to recycle them safely an important sustainability goal.
What The Study Warns:
The study calls for even more stringent recycling practices to avoid consumers being exposed to the chemicals that come from PET plastics.
“Recycling processes already include the cleaning of the bottles before turning them into secondary raw material for use,” said Dr. Eleni Iacovidou, from Brunel’s center for pollution research and policy, who led the study. “By investing in new super-cleaning technologies, we can maximize the likelihood of decontaminating recycled PET to levels similar to virgin PET.”
Iacovidou also stressed that the reliance on PET plastics is the origin of both chemical contamination and litter.
“We all have a responsibility to bear. If we reduce our consumption of PET then we will drive change further up the system.”
Already consumers are increasingly expecting companies to move away from single-use plastics. But recycled products come with their own burden of responsibility.
PPAI’s Product Responsibility FAQs, including its section on drinkware, are a good reference or starting point for working through these issues and making sure your company is doing its due diligence in regards to safety regulations.
PPAI has outlined the FDA requirements as adhering to 2013’s Child Care Act. In regards totoxics in packaging, it states, “The sum of the concentrations of lead, mercury, cadmium and hexavalent chromium that can be found in any package or packaging components, including inks or labels: < or = 100 ppm (0.01%). For recycled materials, the sum of the concentrations of lead, mercury, cadmium and hexavalent chromium that can be found in any package or packaging components, including inks or labels, shall not exceed 200 ppm (0.02%).”
Rick Brenner, MAS, a product safety and regulatory compliance expert and the president of Product Safety Advisors, stresses that regulations of these sorts do not just apply to the promotional products industry.
“Any food contact materials in the US must comply with FDA food contact requirements,” Brenner says. Formerly the Head of Compliance at the supplier Prime, Brenner says that, during his time there, all drinkware was tested at a third-party lab to ensure it met FDA requirements, whether it was made from recycled or virgin material.