BPA Free Plastics

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This is a quick guide to the safe and not so safe plastics to use. Once you’ve finished using your plastic bottle or container, remember to always recycle, where possible. In Riyadh, the main fruit and veg markets have recycling boxes for card, paper, plastics and glass. Also, for Riyadh residents, would putting recycling centres in the main supermarkets encourage you to recycle more? I want to hear your views.

🔸1 Polyethylene terephthalate (PET or PETE)
Used to make soft drink, water, sports drink, ketchup, and salad dressing bottles, and peanut butter, pickle, jelly and jam jars.
GOOD: Not known to leach any chemicals that are suspected of causing cancer or disrupting hormones.

🔸2 High density polyethylene (HDPE)
Milk, water, and juice bottles, yogurt and margarine tubs, cereal box liners, and grocery, trash, and retail bags.
GOOD: Not known to leach any chemicals that are suspected of causing cancer or disrupting hormones.

🔸3 Polyvinyl chloride (V or PVC)
Most cling-wrapped meats, cheeses, and other foods sold in delicatessens and groceries are wrapped in PVC.
BAD: To soften into its flexible form, manufacturers add “plasticizers” during production. Traces of these chemicals can leach out of PVC when in contact with foods. According to the National Institutes of Health, di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP), commonly found in PVC, is a suspected human carcinogen.

🔸4 Low-density polyethylene (LDPE)
Some bread and frozen food bags and squeezable bottles.
OK: Not known to leach any chemicals that are suspected of causing cancer or disrupting hormones, but not as widely recycled as #1 or #2.

🔸5 Polypropylene (PP)
Some ketchup bottles and yogurt and margarine tubs.
OK: Hazardous during production, but not known to leach any chemicals that are suspected of causing cancer or disrupting hormones. Not as widely recycled as #1 and #2.

🔸6 Polystyrene (PS)
Foam insulation and also for hard applications (e.g. cups, some toys)
BAD: Benzene (material used in production) is a known human carcinogen. Butadiene and styrene (the basic building block of the plastic) are suspected carcinogens. Energy intensive and poor recycling.

🔸7 Other (usually polycarbonate)
Baby bottles, microwave ovenware, eating utensils, plastic coating for metal cans
BAD: Made with biphenyl-A, a chemical invented in the 1930s in search for synthetic estrogens. A hormone disruptor. Simulates the action of estrogen when tested in human breast cancer studies. Can leach into food as product ages.

What is BPA?
BPA is the main component of polycarbonate, the hard, clear plastic sometimes used to make water bottles, baby bottles, food storage containers and other items like contact lenses, CDs and electronics devices. BPA is even used in places you wouldn’t normally think of, like the protective lining in tin cans and in dental sealants. If you’ve noticed the little arrows stamped on plastic items with numbers inside, the number to look for here is 7. Although not all plastics labeled “7” contain BPA, it’s still a good identifier, as are the letters “PC.”

Should you be worried about BPA?
Because it is an endocrine disruptor. It changes the way our body’s hormones function, mimicking our own natural hormones — in this case, estrogen.
Estrogen can alter the behavior of more than 200 genes, which control the growth and repair of nearly every organ and tissue in the body. Among other things, estrogen affects fetal development, cell structure and the onset of puberty, and your body’s cells are highly sensitive to even tiny changes in estrogen levels. While toxicity studies suggest high doses are safe, it’s the smaller doses that are deemed the most harmful.

While removing plastic entirely from your life might be a tad bit difficult, you can of course reduce your exposure to BPA and plastics in general. Switch to glass bottles, installing a water filter and using BPA free cans are just a few tips to reduce your exposure to BPA.

One response to “BPA Free Plastics

  1. Dear Sarah,

    Thank you so much for your post! I lived in Holland for a period of 8 years, and we used to either have the recycling centers close to the shopping centers. We used bring all the glass jars/bottles etc, and put them segregated according to the color of the glass in recycling containers.
    For paper, there used to be a specific date of pick up of the paper that you accumulate for every neighborhood. I think there used to be recycling containers for the paper around the neighborhood as well.
    As for plastic soft drink bottles, these we used to take back to any supermarket, and we put them on a machine with a walking band, and it gives you a receipt with how many bottles you returned, and how much money you can get back at the cashier. SO u actually pay the price of the bottle and this will force you to take it back to the supermarket to recycle it and get the money you paid for the bottle. As kids, we used to love being the ones who return the soft drink bottles back! Nice seeing those bottles get in and get rewarded afterwards with some money.
    Also, as far as I remember, all supermarkets used to have battery disposal bins for recycling.
    Sooooooo, YES we would like to see recycling center next to malls, supermarkets, hypermarkets, schools, etc. and YES it would really help…

    I have been living in Riyadh for almost 5 years, and when I first came here I used to collect all the empty batteries, thinking it was easy to locate a specified disposal/recycling bin, but unfortunately I was not able to! I searched on the internet and asked people here, still no succes. So I kept collecting and collecting them….and then after I had soooo many batteries and no recycling bins, I painfully threw them away in the regular trash : (. Till now I didn’t find any battery disposal place, so I am still doing this awful thing…

    I would also like to see a disposal place for chemical stuff like pharmaceutical drugs and the like.

    Thank you very much for your efforts. Please keep writing!

    Ragaa

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