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Recycled plastics found to contain hazardous chemicals, threatening public health

By George George Idowu

Environmental experts and relevant stakeholders have, in several attempts, tried to explain and point out the need for all waste to be recycled to save the planet Earth.

However, contrary to popular belief, recycled plastics, touted as a solution to plastic pollution, contain alarming levels of pesticides, industrial chemicals, flame retardants, and other toxic substances.

A recent report from the International Pollutants Elimination Network (IPEN) has revealed troubling findings about the safety of recycled plastics, highlighting hazardous materials that pose serious health risks.

The study, which analyzed samples from small-scale recyclers in various countries including India, Argentina, Malaysia, and Thailand, identified an alarming number of up to 500 different chemicals in recycled plastic pellets.

Shockingly, one sample alone contained a staggering 224 chemicals, underscoring the extensive contamination in these materials.

These revelations challenge the notion that recycling alone can mitigate the plastic crisis.

Instead, the report suggests that recycled plastics may exacerbate health and environmental concerns by spreading toxic chemicals into everyday products.

Satish Sinha, associate director at Toxics Link, emphasised the urgent need for better regulation and design standards to address the issue.

He stressed the importance of controlling chemical use during plastic production and advocating for stricter guidelines on recycled plastic compositions.

As nations convene to negotiate a Global Plastic Treaty, this new data underscores the complexity and urgency of tackling plastic pollution.

It highlights the imperative need for comprehensive strategies that go beyond recycling to safeguard public health and the environment.


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