Plastic bottles made of polyethylenes (PEs) and polypropylene (PPs) are becoming a toxic hazard for consumers.
A recent report by the Australian Institute of Food and Environmental Research found that nearly 80 per cent of plastic bottles made in Australia were “in poor” or “very poor” condition.
“Plastic bottles are toxic because of their use in many forms of packaging, including food packaging,” says the report, which was published last week.
“In Australia, there is a significant number of plastic packaging products that are not suitable for food and beverage use, including the following: plastic polyethylenimine bottles, polyethylenyltrimethylene bottles, and plastic polypropylenimines (PPEs) as well as polypropylon polystyrene (PPT) bottles.”
The report says most of these plastic bottles have a pH of 3.5-4.
“Polystyrene bottles, however, are rated as a ‘low risk’ because of the high amount of polystyrenes present in the bottle,” the report says.
“The report suggests that the high pH may contribute to the formation of a biofilm that may then cause the plastic to decompose.”
According to the report: “In many cases, the use of these bottles has resulted in the production of an environmentally toxic product that may be carcinogenic and may result in health impacts to the consumer.”
Plastic bottles with a pH rating of 5 are the most toxic to the environment, the report said.
“When used as a food packaging material, polystyrin bottles have been shown to have a high water solubility (compared to polyethylenic polypropene), and they have a very low water solids content, which makes them less suitable for use as food packaging materials.”
The study said it would be a waste of money and resources to remove all plastic bottles from the Australian market, including polystyric acid (PVA), polystyrexene and polystyrethrene (PS), which is also a plastic.
It recommends removing these products from Australia.
Plastic bottles in Australia Plastic bottles have also been found to be a major contributor to the growth of harmful bacteria in Australian waterways, the Australian Conservation Foundation said in a statement.
“There has been considerable evidence that plastic bottles are the source of a wide range of microorganisms, including listeria, salmonella and E. coli,” it said.
The foundation said it had also found that many polystyrile bottles had been found in waterways around Australia.
“These bottles have become the source for bacteria and other harmful organisms in the Australian waterways,” the foundation said.
One of the worst problems associated with plastic bottles is that they’re “not very recyclable”.
According to an Australian Government report, plastic bottles make up more than 20 per cent and polyethyleneglycol (PEG) bottles make just over 8 per cent.
However, the research also found plastic bottles were also used to make packaging materials in the US, Japan, India, South Korea and China.
The report found plastic polystyrellene (PPS) bottles were the most commonly used packaging material.
The plastic polyester (PP) plastic bottles used in the USA were rated as the most environmentally friendly plastic bottles.
The study found that about 40 per cent were used to build housing, 25 per cent to produce plastics, 10 per cent for the packaging of paper products and 10 per the packaging for toys and household items.