From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : PET
Mains level : Plastic waste issue
- PET bottles are safe, a comprehensive evaluation by the CSIR-Central Food Technological Research Institute, Mysore has determined.
- For years there’s been a swirling debate internationally on whether PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate) bottles, which are the mainstay of plastic bottles, leach harmful chemicals when exposed to high temperatures.
- PET is short for polyethylene terephthalate, the chemical name for polyester.
- PET is a clear, strong, and lightweight plastic that is widely used for packaging foods and beverages, especially convenience-sized soft drinks, juices and water.
- It is also popular for packaging salad dressings, peanut butter, cooking oils, mouthwash, shampoo, liquid hand soap, window cleaner, even tennis balls.
- Special grades of PET are used for carry-home food containers and prepared food trays that can be warmed in the oven or microwave.
- The basic building blocks of PET are ethylene glycol and terephthalic acid, which are combined to form a polymer chain.
Toxins are below detection limits (BDL)
- The CFRTI analysis, commissioned by an industry body, concluded that antimony, arsenic, barium, cadmium, chromium, cobalt, lead, mercury, selenium and zinc “were below” their detection limits (BDL) of 0.001 mg/kg.
- Along with metals, the scientists also measured terephthalic acid, Isophthalic acid, Ethylene Glycol, BPA (bis-phenol A) and phthalates.
- Bisphenol-A (a synthetic organic compound and used in the manufacture of PET bottles) was below its detection limit of 0.02 mg/kg.
- BPA is now phased out after research found a link between the presence of BPA and the disruption of hormone regulation, as well as breast cancer.
- The CFTRI scientists found that the presence of metals, BPA and pthalates were “below detection limit”.
Compliant with global standards
- The analysis found that no chemcials breached the EU-specified norms.
- The reports were also below the EU regulation norms of the “specific migration limit”, which is the maximum amount of a substance that can migrate from a food packaging material or food container into food.
- In most cases the EU standards are similar to the ones specified by the FSSAI, except for BPA for which FSSAI has not specified standards and zinc, where FSSAI permits 25mg/kg as opposed to the EU’s 5 mg/kg.
Safe for packaged water
- The studies further confirmed that antimony does not leach out of PET bottles.
- These findings further establish that no endocrine disruption happens from the use of PET bottles.
- The scientists also studied water stored in PET bottles and checked whether it affected the hormone levels of rats and mice.
- The evaluation found that the experimental male and female rats exhibited comparable blood hormone levels in both cases.
- This conclusively proved that PET bottles did not cause any Endocrine Disruption activity if used to package water.