In a press release published on December 3, 2020, civil society organization Zero Waste Europe (ZWE) announced the results of a biomonitoring study investigating the presence of 28 chemicals commonly used in single-use plastic food packaging. This involved sampling and analyzing urine from “52 decision-makers, media personalities, public figures and artists across Europe.” The measurements were taken within the organization’s wider ‘Plastics in the Spotlight’ project that aims to “elevate the health impacts of plastic packaging to the top of decision-makers priorities in order to secure the adoption of a new comprehensive legislative framework for food contact materials in the EU.”

The 28 chemicals analyzed included a range of phthalate metabolites and phenols. On average, 20 of the 28 chemicals were detected across all collected urine samples. Individual results ranged from the detection of 18 to 23 of the investigated chemicals. Some of the notable participants in the study that provided samples for testing included the European Commission’s Executive Vice President Margrethe Vestager, European Parliament Vice President Heidi Hautala, ENVI Committee Chair Pascal Canfin as well as Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Frédérique Ries. Details regarding the methodology behind the sample collection and measurement are provided in a separate background document.

Rosa Garcia, the director of civil society organization Rezero, commented that “this research adds to a growing body of scientific literature that proves the exposure of consumers to hazardous chemicals through single-use food packaging, notably plastic, and links this exposure to a number of diseases. Again, we are seeing that public health has been inadequately protected from these toxic chemicals for too long . . . This needs to be urgently addressed by decision-makers and packaging producers.”

The European Commission has recently committed to proposing a revision of current EU legislation on food contact materials by the end of 2022 (FPF reported).


ZWE (December 3, 2020). “Plastics in the Spotlight Project: Plastic food packaging chemicals & human health.” (pdf)

Read More

ZWE (December 3, 2020). “Press Release: Hazardous chemicals associated with food packaging found in the body – new research across Europe calls for a strong legislative response.”

ZWE (2020). “#PlasticsInTheSpotlight.”