Are Plastic Products Safe?

Overview

Potentially harmful plastic additives have to be distinguished between the different kinds of plastic. Several international organisation and countries have determined banned and restricted substances.  

Article Highlights

  • Plastic is present in almost every product being sold and with that potentially harmful substances.
  • Through the SPI system, consumers would then be able to determine the type of plastic and how harmful it can be.
  • Consumers should be aware of the risk associated to different types of plastics and chemicals.

Today, plastic is present in almost every product being sold, from Ziploc bags to coffee cups, and to microbeads in cosmetic products. It is a mixture of both high polymer (synthetic resin) and auxiliary materials such as fillers, plasticizers, lubricants, stabilizers, coloring agents, and etc. That is why plastic product safety has come into the attention of the general public.

 

plastic categories

 

In 1988, the Society of the Plastics Industry (SPI) established an organized system which uses SPI codes on each plastic product. From there, consumers would then be able to determine the type of plastic and how harmful it can be; whether the plastic product can be recycled, how many times it can be reused and if it’s even recyclable at all.

Global companies such as UL dedicate themselves to serving customers and stakeholders to ensure responsible design, production, marketing and purchase of the goods. They provide the complete view of how products function within a given system, particularly plastics. On the other hand, the BPF ensures product safety and monitors it.

The Committee focuses on the key issues surrounding;

  • Chemicals policy
  • Plastics in contact with foodstuffs
  • Plastics in medical applications
  • Plastics in potable water applications
  • Plastics in toy applications
  • General product liability issues
  • Crisis management and media scares

Through BPF Activity, lobbying and participation in BSI and CEN Committees, formulation of standards surrounding the safe usage of plastics are ensured.

In Australia, a plasticizer called DEHP is banned from products that are intended for use by children up to and including 36 months of age or products that contain or have an accessible component containing more than 1 per cent by weight of DEHP.

Overall, consumers around the world should be aware of the different types of plastics. While the vast majority of Tupperware and similar products are considered safe, some food storage containers that are repeatedly used can cause harm due to the presence of polycarbonate. Another component of plastic is polystyrene which can also be dangerous as it can cause skin, eye, and respiratory irritation; an example of plastic with polystyrene is takeout orders from restaurants. It is important to be updated with the proper ways for plastics to be used, whether they are safe to be recycled or not. Plastic product safety may be under the supplier’s control but it is also the seller’s responsibility to be aware of the product’s details.