An article published on May 30, 2018 by science news provider EurekAlert! informed about a new study entitled “Black plastics: Linear and circular economies, hazardous additives and marine pollution.” The study was published on May 17, 2018 in the peer-reviewed journal Environment International and conducted by Andrew Turner from Plymouth University, UK.
Turner determined the presence and levels of bromine (Br, as a proxy for brominated flame retardants (BFRs)), chlorine (Cl, as a measure of chlorination and indicator of polyvinyl chloride (PVC)), and the heavy metals cadmium (Cd), chromium (Cr), mercury (Hg), lead (Pb), and antimony (Sb) in black plastic electrical and non-electrical consumer products including food contact items (e.g., thermos cups, drink stirrers, coffee cup lids). Cr and Br were the most frequently detected elements and have been identified in 35 and 29 of the 129 tested food-contact samples, followed by Sb and Pb with 20 and 18 positives samples. The highest concentrations in food-contact samples were measured for Br (2.6 – 6,010 ppm) and Sb (137 – 3,200 ppm).
“Black products constitute about 15% of the domestic plastic waste stream, of which the majority is single-use packaging and trays for food,” Turner explained. However, the recycling of black plastics is challenging and “there is mounting evidence that the demand for black plastics in consumer products is partly met by sourcing material from the plastic housings of end-of-life waste electronic and electrical equipment (WEEE),” he further outlined. He thus recommended that “future scientific research [should] focus on the behavior and migration of additives that have been recycled into sensitive consumer goods like food-contact items, drinks vessels and small toys.”
EurekAlert! (May 30, 2018). “Recycled electrical products lead to hazardous chemicals appearing in everyday items.”
Olivia Rosane (May 30, 2018). “Dangerous chemicals from e-waste found in black plastics from toys to drink stirrers.” EcoWatch
Turner, A. (2018). “Black plastics: Linear and circular economies, hazardous additives and marine pollution.” Environment International 117:308-318.