There has been a lot of discussion recently about the issue of plastic pollution and the Governments proposal to charge consumers to ' encourage' recycling. Although I agree that plastic pollution is a serious matter I feel the issue is being framed wrongly. This is making the victims the guilty party.
I can remember when food came in paper bags, jars, glass bottles and cardboard. Were any of us asked if we wanted plastic instead? The change was for the greater convenience and profit of the manufacturers and particularly the retailers like the large supermarket chains.
We have an expectation that the people entrusted with the disposal and recycling of our waste will take care and not contaminate the oceans with plastic bottles. Perhaps we should not be exporting our recycling across the oceans to China.
What we are never told by the mainstream media is the great harm to our health and the environment being done by plastic used in contact with foods. Plastic food packaging contains up to 100,000 different chemicals, only a few of which have been tested for their potential effect on human health. Some chemicals called phthalates including DEHP, BPA and BPS are plasticisers which make plastic packaging flexible, transparent and more durable. Although these chemicals have been banned from use in plastic baby bottles they can be found in almost all other plastics which are in contact with foods. They can alter the developing reproductive systems in male embryos and can reduce adult male and female fertility. In the past few years, researchers have linked them to asthma, ADHD, breast cancer, obesity, type II diabetes, neuro-developmental issues, behavioural issues, and autism spectrum disorders. Phthalates have been found in urine, so via waste water they will also make their way into the rivers and seas contaminating whole ecosystems and food chains. Tetrapak type containers and tins are mostly lined with a plastic film and superheated which increases the amount of leeching of plasticisers from the container into the contents.
This is just one issue relating to food and water which has huge health and environmental implications. From 1951 to 2015 the non-stick coating Teflon contained a toxic carcinogen called C8 or PFOA. It has been replaced by Gen X which promises to be just as toxic. It caused multiple tumours in rats in animal studies and can cause renal and prostate cancer in humans. At over 400F the Teflon gives off the C8 as a gas even when the surface is undamaged. Class actions against the manufacturer DuPont are taking place in USA. Many of these pans will still be in use as public awareness of the problem is so low and old pans are even more dangerous. The chemical is toxic in quantities of 1 part in 2000,000,000. It is bio-persistent for 2 million years in the environment.
Fluoride is a chemical which is added without our consent to drinking water in the UK, in spite of being banned in most countries. There is no evidence that it prevents dental decay when ingested, it is only effective as a topical treatment such as in toothpastes. Even toothpaste labels warn against using more than a pea sized amount at a time because of toxicity. Studies in China show fluoridation reduces the IQ of children.
Labour policy should reflect genuine care for the issues of environmental pollution and food safety. Steps should be taken to legislate against the storage of sale of products in plastic. And the public should be informed of the dangers so they can demand properly recyclable packaging. Fluoridation should stop immediately.