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posted by hubie on Friday March 22, @02:02PM   Printer-friendly

More than 400 of the chemicals identified are in every major commonly used plastic product such as food packaging:

Scientists have compiled a list of over 16,000 chemicals present in plastic products and found that more than 4,000 of these were hazardous to human health and the environment.

The research review, known as the PlastChem report, was released on Thursday and comes ahead of the next round of negotiations for a UN treaty on global plastic pollution.

Researchers, who spent a year combing through research reports, sorted chemicals used in plastics based on their environmental and health effects – information the team hopes will inform governmental regulations and international negotiations to curb plastic use.

The review found that there are more plastic chemicals than previously known, and 4,200 (26 per cent) of these compounds, including those used as raw ingredients, stabilisers and colourants, are of concern due to their "persistent, bioaccumulative, mobile and/or toxic" nature.

[...] More than 400 of the chemicals identified in the report are in every major commonly used plastic product such as food packaging, and all the tested plastics leached hazardous chemicals into the environment, researchers noted.

[...] While about 1,000 plastic chemicals are regulated by global treaties such as the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, thousands more are not.

[...] "The PlastChem report is a wake-up call to policymakers and industry. We need more transparency and better management of chemicals of concern in plastic," Hans Peter Arp, a co-author of the report from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), said.

"The future of innovation in plastic should focus on safety, sustainability, and necessity, rather than just functionality," Dr Arp said.


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  • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 23, @03:47AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 23, @03:47AM (#1349933)

    Actually the degrading is often why I have to dispose of plastic stuff.

    I still have plastic stuff from the 1970s (which probably wasn't designed to degrade).

    I'm also still re-using a fair bit of those single-use plastic bags. But some of them depolymerize after some time and it becomes very annoyingly messy.

    The real problem with single use plastic is littering and improper waste disposal. If the plastic was landfilled or incinerated for energy how is it a problem? Also if biodegradable plastic is landfilled does it degrade that much? And do you really want it to degrade in a landfill? Remember if it's landfilled and not degrading it's locked up carbon (yes some of you will argue some of it eventually leaches out and gets into the oceans etc but in the big picture that's like complaining about a speck when you have a plank in your eye). And if you landfill stuff in a somewhat organized way, maybe future generations/species might be able to mine the stuff more easily (just like coal deposits are mined today).

    Also it's ironic that the ones trying to do all these mostly pointless stuff aren't the main sources of plastic bags/straws in the ocean. It's the other countries: https://www.visualcapitalist.com/cp/visualized-ocean-plastic-waste-pollution-by-country [visualcapitalist.com]
    https://www.reusethisbag.com/articles/countries-that-pollute-most-ocean-plastics [reusethisbag.com]

    So maybe if you really wanted to do something you could pressure those top countries to handle their plastic waste better.

    After all when Philippines is generating 36% of the ocean plastic trash, getting them to cut down to 10% or lower would do magnitudes more for the environment than say Sweden 100% switching from plastic straws to metal (Sweden incinerates plastic waste to generate electricity - so if they are not a nation full of litterbugs, few of those straws are ending up in the ocean).

    The other source of plastics are car tyres: https://phys.org/news/2017-02-tiny-plastic-particles-tyres-clogging.html [phys.org]
    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/jul/14/car-tyres-are-major-source-of-ocean-microplastics-study [theguardian.com]

    If you see the bars in the first link for North America and Europe the microplastic waste generated is similar if not more compared to the bigger stuff.

    But I doubt there's much of a solution for that, other than not driving as much and having the tyres last longer. There are many good reasons why tyres are using synthetic stuff instead of rubber. And why you don't want them to degrade fast in the environment. In fact it's very likely that the longer lasting tyres generate lower plastic waste per year than the ones that don't last long.

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