Jul 06, 2012
PET water bottles do not pose health risk – industry bodyBack
Africa|Health|Packaging|Safety|Waste|Waste Management|Water|Africa|Europe|New Zealand|South Africa|United States|University Of Idaho|Automotive|Biomass-based Plastic Products|Chemical Exposure|Dangerous Chemicals|Energy|Food Contact Materials|Mainstream Media|Manufacturing|Media Attention|Packaged Food Product|Packaging|Plastic Products|Plastics Industry|Polystyrene Products|Products|Environmental|Anton Hanekom|Waste|Water|Insulation|Idaho
© Reuse this
“Plastic is the ideal packaging material for today’s modern society.
“It is lightweight, increases the shelf life of fresh produce, reduces waste and breakage, and is recyclable, but consumers are continuously plagued with rumours about cancer risks associated with using this popular packaging material,” he states.
He points out that a hoax email has been circulating about the dangers of reusing water bottles.
The email originated from a student’s master’s thesis from the University of Idaho, in the US, and suggested that the blue PET water bottles, if reused or left in the sun, would release dangerous chemicals, such as diethylhydroxylamine (DEHA), from the plastic into the water, which could cause numerous health problems.
Although mainstream media around the world published the findings, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) did not review the thesis, says Hanekom.
The FDA regulates bottled water as a packaged food product. It has determined that PET meets the standards for food contact materials and does not contain DEHA.
“The public needs to know that DEHA is not used in PET bottles and that it is, therefore, impossible for this chemical to leach into the water – even if the bottle is left in the sun for several hours,” PlasticsSA highlights.
However, one health concern that does need to be taken into account when reusing water bottles is that people, particularly children, can easily spread and ingest bacteria from their hands and mouths in the sharing and reusing of bottles that have not been properly washed or have not been allowed sufficient time to dry, warns Hanekom.
PlasticsSA adds that PET bottles have received a great deal of media attention, which raised questions about their safety.
“Preying on the fears of consumers and then promising to right a grievous wrong, such as cancer-causing water bottles, is nothing new when it can buy popularity,” says Hanekom, reflecting on political campaigns in the US and Europe.
“Add to this the scaremongering tactics used by companies that try to sell biomass-based plastic products in place of polystyrene products, by warning that plastic products are dangerous for consumers’ health. That is just not true,” says Hanekom.
He acknowledges that people have the right to be concerned about their own health and safety, and states that the global plastics industry, which includes South Africa, takes such a view.
“There is no doubt that concerns about certain chemicals do exist and, globally, scientists are being called upon to do more to see if humans are, in fact, at risk when using packaging materials that contain chemicals.
“The informed consumer needs to make a sensible lifestyle choice and PlasticsSA supports that.”
The industry body states that it will not react defensively to the possible health hazards of the use of plastic.
“On the contrary, we acknowledge that some scientific research may well have identified some possible risks that depend on the extent of a person’s exposure to a particular chemical in packaging materials such as Bisphenol A.”
The industry body, however, associates itself with the declarations of PlasticsEurope, the American Chemistry Council plastics division, and the Japanese and the Australian/New Zealand plastics sssociations, stating that plastic packaging materials are based on good science principles.
PlasticsSA adds that position papers on good science by these organisations are freely available.
“The global plastics industry will not knowingly endanger the health of consumers, but consumers must be aware that there are some unscrupulous manufacturers of certain products that are less than forthcoming about what their products contain,” Hanekom warns.
Meanwhile, the industry body says that, in addition to delivering clean and safe drinking water to areas in our country where it is desperately needed, bottled water also provides an affordable, healthy and practical alternative to soft drinks.
Once consumed, the plastic bottles and other plastic packaging recycling process provides employment to more than 40 000 people in the country, it adds.
In South Africa, PET water bottles are not exported for recycling, as is the case in many other countries, but are mechanically recycled into fibre filling for duvets, pillows, fleece jackets, automotive parts, insulation, geotextiles and, most importantly, back into food-grade packaging, says Hanekom.
“South Africa currently recycles five-million bottles a day. Besides creating jobs in waste management, and the developing production, manufacturing and marketing sectors, this recycling industry reduces our dependence on importing raw materials for plastics manufacturing, shrinks the carbon footprint of the country and ensures that used plastic bottles don’t end up in landfills.”
If plastic packaging were to be replaced by traditional materials, the world’s energy consumption would double, and carbon gas emissions would increase sevenfold, PlasticsSA asserts.
“Knowing the truth about plastic packaging is empowering and we encourage the public to always do more research on statements and emails, particularly those where the consequences can potentially be life threatening,” the industry body concludes.
Edited by: Chanel de Bruyn© Reuse this Comment Guidelines (150 word limit)
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online
Other Packaging, Labelling and Barcoding News
Updated 4 hours ago The Department of Energy (DoE) told Parliament on Tuesday that technical preparations are at an advanced stage and the government is ready to move full steam ahead; but it kept details of how the nuclear programme would be financed firmly under wraps. “We are still...
Updated 4 hours ago In the next two decades nuclear energy’s share of the world’s power generation mix is projected to increase by several percentage points from 11% currently, as countries strive to meet growing demand by deploying technologies that do not exacerbate global warming....
Updated 4 hours ago Notwithstanding its recent downgrade to junk status, State-owned electricity utility Eskom is still planning to raise a whopping R66-billion in debt funding during 2015/16 to cover operational and capital expenditure (capex) shortfalls that will arise even after a...
Recent Research Reports
Steel 2015: A review of South Africa's steel sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Steel 2015 report provides an overview of the key developments in the global steel industry and particularly of South Africa’s steel sector over the past year, including details of production and consumption, as well as the country's primary carbon...
Projects in Progress 2015 - First Edition (PDF Report)
In fact, this edition of Creamer Media’s Projects in Progress 2015 supplement tracks developments taking place under the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme, which has had four bidding rounds. It appears to remain a shining light on the...
Electricity 2015: A review of South Africa's electricity sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Electricity 2015 report provides an overview of State-owned power utility Eskom and independent power producers, as well as electricity planning, transmission, distribution and the theft thereof, besides other issues.
Construction 2015: A review of South Africa’s construction sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Construction 2015 Report examines South Africa’s construction industry over the past 12 months. The report provides insight into the business environment; the key participants in the sector; local construction demand; geographic diversification;...
Liquid Fuels 2014 - A review of South Africa's Liquid Fuels sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Liquid Fuels 2014 Report examines these issues, focusing on the business environment, oil and gas exploration, the country’s feedstock supplies, the development of South Africa’s biofuels industry, fuel pricing, competition in the sector, the...
Water 2014: A review of South Africa's water sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Water 2014 report considers the aforementioned issues, not only in the South African context, but also in the African and global context, and examines the issues of water and sanitation, water quality and the demand for water, among others.
This Week's Magazine
While strongly welcoming the promulgation of the new Part 101 of South Africa’s civil aviation regulations, governing the commercial operation of civil remotely piloted aircraft (RPAs) in South Africa, the Commercial Unmanned Aircraft Association of Southern Africa...
LSM Distributors has contracted engineering consultancy WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff Africa to undertake the R100-million restoration of the 54-year-old Kyalami racetrack, situated in Midrand. The restoration will assist in re-establishing it as a venue for...
South African Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula has expressed the hope that the defence budget will be significantly increased over the next five years. She did so while addressing the media in her recent budget vote media briefing. The 2015/2016 defence...
The African Development Bank (AfDB) has been an implementing agency for the Global Environment Facility (GEF) since 2008. The relatively young portfolio has 28 projects over 30 countries on the continent according to the 2014 AfDB and GEF annual report released...
Investment in South African youth through apprenticeships and learnerships will not only create direct benefits for businesses but will also contribute significantly to job creation and socioeconomic transformation in the country.
Next ArticleTrolley tracking breakthrough in retail science