Products from recycled plastic in India not safe, says new study | Latest News Delhi - Hindustan Times
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Products from recycled plastic in India not safe, says new study

Mar 05, 2024 10:35 PM IST

As part of the study, Toxics Link lifted samples of 15 different recycled plastic products from Delhi’s markets and informal plastic recycling units

Products made from recycled plastic may not be as safe as one may think, according to a new study that has found a cocktail of toxic chemicals in recycled products in Delhi.

Among plastic materials that come in contact with food, water bottles and masala boxes were found to contain bisphenol A, while casseroles showed the presence of single-chain chlorinated paraffins. (HT Archive)
Among plastic materials that come in contact with food, water bottles and masala boxes were found to contain bisphenol A, while casseroles showed the presence of single-chain chlorinated paraffins. (HT Archive)

The study by environmental NGO Toxics Link, titled “Is Plastic Recycling Safe?” that was released on Tuesday, revealed that of the tested products, 86% of toys and 67% of plastic materials that come in contact with food contained one or more of the five toxic chemicals — phthalates, chlorinated paraffins, heavy metals, bisphenol A, and nonylphenol. These chemicals, the NGO said, can lead to long-term health impacts, including impacts on the reproductive system and pregnancy, respiratory issues, dermal effects, and even DNA damage.

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As part of the study, Toxics Link lifted samples of 15 different recycled plastic products from Delhi’s markets and informal plastic recycling units. These items tested included non-branded food and drink containers, tooth brushes, kitchen items like casseroles and even children’s toys.

“With mounting concerns surrounding plastic pollution and the industry pushing for recycling as the perfect solution, it is imperative that we critically assess the safety of plastic recycling practices. Our report clearly shows that recycled plastic is not clean and maybe full of chemicals,” lead researcher Priti Banthia Mahesh, chief programme coordinator at Toxics Link, said.

According to the study, among toys, rubber ducks contained single-chain chlorinated paraffins (338 mg/kg), cadmium (89 mg/kg), nonylphenol (522 mg/kg), and high levels of DEHP and DINP phthalates, while a mouth organ contained bisphenol A (12.7 mg/kg), nonylphenol (41.1 mg/kg), and the DEHP phthalate (220000 mg/kg).

Meanwhile, among plastic materials that come in contact with food, water bottles and masala boxes were found to contain bisphenol A, while casseroles showed the presence of single-chain chlorinated paraffins.

Mahesh said the contamination could be taking place during the recycling phase, although a number of these chemicals could be part of the original plastic product that was recycled.

“We found that heavy metals can be introduced during recycling, if the process involves changing or adding colours. For most other products, including those products lifted from recycled units, we found that this was legacy contamination and that the original products too had chemicals inside. Invertedly, as more plastic is added, even more chemicals combine,” she explained.

The report also called for strict regulations when it comes to recycling of plastic in Delhi and across the country. “In view of the growing scientific evidence on the presence of highly hazardous and toxic chemicals in recycled products, the recycling of plastic is fraught with serious threat to human health. We must not advocate for indiscriminate recycling of plastic as a strategy for waste minimization,” said Satish Sinha, associate director of Toxics Link, adding that serious action was required on the ground, particularly in terms of monitoring of recycled plastic.

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