Jul 06, 2012
PET water bottles do not pose health risk – industry bodyBack
Africa|Gas|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|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
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online
To subscribe email firstname.lastname@example.org or click here
To advertise email email@example.com or click here
Other Packaging, Labelling and Barcoding News
Updated 17 minutes ago JSE-listed Accentuate on Thursday renewed its cautionary after confirming suspicions of alleged fraudulent activities at one of its subsidiaries. While investigations were still ongoing into “suspicious activities” at subsidiary Floorworx Africa, Accentuate assured...
Updated 28 minutes ago The rand weakened slightly to R15.92 at 09:55 ahead of President Jacob Zuma’s State of the Nation speech on Thursday, which will be watched closely by local investors hoping for a sign that the country can stave off a credit rating downgrade to “junk status”. “While...
Recent Research Reports
Construction 2016: A review of South Africa's construction industry (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Construction 2016 Report examines South Africa’s construction industry over the past 12 months. The report provides insight into the business environment; key participants; local demand; geographic diversification; corporate activity; black economic...
Energy Roundup – February 2016 (PDF Report)
The February 2016 roundup covers activities across South Africa for December 2015 and January 2016 and includes details of a Government Gazette notice that confirms Cabinet’s decision to move ahead with the 9 600 MW nuclear procurement programme; State-owned power...
Energy Roundup - December 2015 (PDF Report)
The December 2015 roundup includes details of State-owned utility Eskom’s application to claw back R22.8-billion; South Africa’s ranking as an investment destination for renewable energy; and a nuclear expert’s thoughts on reactor designs for South Africa’s nuclear...
Water 2015: A review of South Africa's water sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Water 2015 Report considers the aforementioned issues, not only in the South African context but also in the African and global context in terms of supply and demand, water stress and insecurity, and access to water and sanitation, besides others.
Input Sector Review: Pumps 2015 (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s 2015 Input Sector Review on Pumps provides an overview of South Africa’s pumps industry with particular focus on pump manufacture and supply, aftermarket services, marketing strategies, local and export demand, imports, sector support, investment...
Liquid Fuels 2015: A review of South Africa's liquid fuels sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Liquid Fuels 2015 Report examines these issues in the context of South Africa’s business environment; oil and gas exploration; fuel pricing; the development of the country’s biofuels industry; the logistics of transporting liquid fuels; and...
This Week's Magazine
Power and automation company ABB is in the launch phase of its highest payload, multipurpose industrial robot, the IRB 8700. The robot has a reach of 3.5 m and can handle a payload of up to 800 kg. “When designing the IRB 8700, we emphasised reach and payload, as...
Identity and Access Management (IAM) is a critical facet of a connected security ecosystem, as controlling the confidentiality, integrity and authorisation of data access and use is key to securing new digital business channels. However, companies face several...
Data underpins digital business models, the digital economy, the Internet of Things and the fundamental changes in the ways people interact and protecting data is crucial to securing new ways of doing business, says T-Systems South Africa information and...
The City of Cape Town will issue a tender for the procurement of electric buses for its MyCiTi service, in line with the council’s commitment to lower its carbon footprint, says executive mayor Patricia de Lille. The tender, to be advertised early in February, will...
The iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority signed a R10-million contract last month with local tailings storage facility specialists Cyclone Engineering Projects to remove about 100 000 m3 of dredge spoil obstructing the natural course of the uMfolozi river, in...
Next ArticleTrolley tracking breakthrough in retail science