Hundreds of Toxic Chemicals Found in Recycled Plastics

A study led by researchers at the University of Gothenburg has exposed a disconcerting reality about recycled plastics. Plastic pellets from recycle plants in 13 countries, spanning Africa, South America, Asia, and Eastern Europe, were found to harbour over 600 toxic chemicals, encompassing pesticides, pharmaceuticals, industrial chemicals, and plastic additives.

PLASTICS DEEMED UNFIT FOR MOST PURPOSES

The study concludes that recycled plastics, laden with toxic chemicals, are unsuitable for most purposes, posing a significant obstacle to the vision of a circular economy. The findings challenge the notion that plastic recycling alone can address the plastics pollution crisis, highlighting the complexities involved in the reuse and disposal of toxic-laden plastics.

GLOBAL URGENCY: PLASTICS TREATY MEETING IN NAIROBI

As delegates, scientists, and environmental advocates converge on Nairobi for the Plastics Treaty Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee meeting, the study’s revelations take centre stage. The scientific community urges global leaders to recognize that the pervasive use of toxic chemicals in all plastics renders them neither safe nor truly circular.

NEED FOR CHEMICAL REGULATION IN PLASTICS

With over 13,000 chemicals used in plastics, and 25% classified as hazardous, researchers emphasize the imperative to regulate these substances. The lack of stringent regulations, coupled with the international trade in plastic waste, exacerbates the risks posed by hazardous chemicals in recycled plastics.

MESSAGE TO NAIROBI: PHASE OUT HARMFUL CHEMICALS

Professor Bethanie Carney Almroth, leading the study, delivers a clear message to the Nairobi meeting. She emphasizes the need for an immediate phase-out of plastic chemicals that jeopardize human health and the environment. The study underscores that recycling potential to address the plastics pollution crisis hinges on the industry’s commitment to limiting and eliminating hazardous chemicals.

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