A report published on July 13, 2021, by Defend Our Health and Ecology Center Healthy Stuff Lab on behalf of the Toxic Free Food Campaign summarizes the use of phthalates and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) in plastic bottle cap liners. The Ecology Center Healthy Stuff Lab acquired 273 bottle cap liners from non-alcoholic glass-bottled beverages and 10 from plastic-bottled beverages sold in 12 US states, Washington DC, and Toronto, Canada between late 2019 and throughout 2020. Subsequently, cap gaskets were analyzed with FTIR (Fourier-transform infrared) spectroscopy for the presence of ortho-phthalates and PVC.
The study found that cap gaskets from more than one-third of the 141 tested brands contained the ortho-phthalates bis(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP, CAS 117-81-7), diisononyl phthalate (DINP, CAS 28553-12-0), and diisodecyl phthalate (DIDP, CAS 26761-40-0), all three of which are listed in the Food Packaging Forum’s Food Contact Chemicals database (FCCdb) as priority hazardous substances. In addition, “four safer alternatives to ortho-phthalates were identified in use as a plasticizer.” Phthalates were most frequently detected in cap gaskets for soda, with 55% of the cap liners containing phthalates, followed by organic products (41%), smaller brands (41%), and kombucha (40%). PVC “was most frequently found in the bottle cap liners from ready-to-drink coffee (100% of brands tested) and tea (84% of brands tested), juices and juice drinks (82% of brands tested), and brands purchased at dollar stores (75% of brands tested).” Cap gaskets from around two-thirds of the tested brands were made of PVC, 19% of polystyrene, 11% of polyethylene vinyl acetate, and 3% of polyethylene. In total, 59 brands used plastics other than PVC to produce their bottle cap liners, and these were tested and found to be free of ortho-phthalates.
The Toxic Free Food Campaign has shared the test results with the brand owners, leading several major brands to change to cap liners free of phthalates. A report by the Swedish non-governmental organization ChemSec provides small business operators with practical advice on why and how to substitute ortho-phthalates (FPF reported). In June 2018, the US Senate was already presented with a bill to ban the use of ortho-phthalates in food contact materials (FPF reported), and one year later the State of Maine passed legislation aiming to eliminate phthalates in beverage packaging and several other food contact articles (FPF reported).
Defend Our Health and Ecology Center (July 2021). “Capped with Toxics.” (published July 13, 2021)
Healthy Stuff (July 13, 2021). “Capped with Toxics.”
Center for Food Safety (July 14, 2021). “Toxic Chemicals Found in Some Beverage Packaging.”