Gothenburg, Sweden Toxic chemicals in plastic waste exports from wealthy countries are contaminating food in developing/transition countries around the world, according to a new study released today by the International Pollutants Elimination Network (IPEN).
Virtually all plastics contain hazardous chemical additives. Most of the plastic waste exported from wealthy countries to countries with developing economies or economies in transition is landfilled, burned, or dumped into waterways. All of these disposal methods result in highly toxic emissions that remain in the environment for decades and build up in the food chain.
For this study, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in fourteen countries which in many cases receive plastic waste from abroad collected free-range chicken eggs in the vicinity of various plastic waste disposal sites and facilities. The egg collection sites included plastic and electronic waste yards; waste dumpsites with significant amounts of plastic wastes; recycling and shredder plants which deal with significant amounts of plastic waste; and waste incineration and waste-to-energy operations.
Although plastics pollution is getting more of the attention it has long deserved, often lost in the discussion are the toxic additives that contaminate plastic products, leach into food webs and the environment, and persist in recycling streams. Without addressing the harms created by these toxic additives, the prospect of achieving a safe circular economy is greatly hindered.
Plastic’s Toxic Additives and the Circular Economy, a new report developed in collaboration with multiple UN convention groups, technical experts, and organizations working to address pollution, discusses the key challenges society faces to eliminate toxic components in the plastics life-cycle, identifies chemicals and sectors of greatest concern, and outlines key approaches for tackling the issues.
A new report on plastics and toxic additives has been released. This report was prepared by the Marine Litter Topic Group lead by the Stockholm Convention Regional Centre in Spain as part of its activities under the Convention on the impact of plastic waste, marine plastic litter, microplastics and measures for their prevention and environmentally sound management. Several IPEN Participating Organizations and IPEN Science Advisors contributed to this report. Click here to read the full report.