For those of you who didn't know that many "unknown" chemicals are added to plastic used in food packaging, you had better read this news from Plastic Technologies, Inc. (PTI): http://www.bevnet.com/news/2010/11-2-2010-PET-Dairy. PTI is announcing the use of a new technology (oPTITM) to manufacture plastic bottles for storing light sensitive dairy products such as milk and drinkable yogurts. This technology allows the company to use fewer additives in the manufacturing process "which can limit package recycling". The company's Vice-President states in the press release that "[d]airy applications (...) are sensitive to UV rays which decrease shelf life. To solve the problem, additives such as titanium dioxide [TiO2] are frequently added to high density polyethylene or traditional PET containers to achieve shelf-life objectives. In addition to impacting the recycling stream, these additives are expensive (...)." The company also indicates that it can use many different colors to its bottles using this technology, but that "these cannot be recycled as part of the clear PET stream."
So what is interesting in reading this news clip is the confirmation of the many additives mixed with plastic resins to obtain the final product packaging. It is also disconcerting to realize that there is no way of knowing what these additives are as there is no mandatory disclosure in the USA and Canada. Companies seem to be free to add whatever additives they want under the assumption that they do not impact the content that is being packaged. I surely hope some exceptions exist with lead and other toxic chemicals. I invite you to check out the Green Science Policy Institute's website and Arlene Blum's youtube videos for some information. Arlene Blum is the expert. Her talk on TEDx GPGP was one of my favorites.
The other interesting fact is that some additives, especially colours, affect the "recyclability" of plastic bottles. This "recyclability", or should I say "downcyclability", is already very low with only 7% of all plastics being made into new products. So if you absolutely have to buy a plastic container, try and find one that is as transparent as possible.
Chantal Plamondon, Co-Owner
[photo credit: Plastic Technnologies, Inc.]