To Reuse Or Not To Reuse Plastic Bottles Or Containers, That Is The Question

In the world of recycling, the issue of reusing plastic bottles or containers has always had opinions for all tastes.

Although they are reused to avoid using more plastic and wasting more bottles, it may not be the best option. All plastics are under suspicion.

Plastic containers for food or drinks are made with some  hormonal contaminants  such as  Bisphenol A.

If we talk about Bisphenol A, we can say that it is a chemical compound that is used to synthesize polycarbonate and resins, used to make food packaging. It is classified as an  endocrine disruptor.

According to Ecologists in Action, the harmful effects usually appear after several years of exposure to very small amounts, and can cause health damage such as diabetes, obesity, reproductive problems, cancer in organs related to hormones.

Some myths about reusing plastic bottles or containers :

Plastic bottles in the cold.

It has been said that plastic bottles, when frozen, release toxins. These toxins are called dioxins, and they are a chemical that is altered when exposed to cold. Plastic releases this chemical substance, which passes into the water and therefore into our bodies when we drink it.

Also, a decade ago, it was commented that these same toxins that are so polluting for the body, are capable of causing cancer. Because these dioxins or DEHA additives are highly poisonous to the cells of our body.

Plastic bottles before the heat.

Now let’s move to the other side, to the heat. We see how plastic, when exposed to heat, is also capable of releasing dioxins or DEHA agents, which are so harmful. The most common source of heat is when the plastic bottle is reused and left in the car. When the plastic is heated, it begins to release the aforementioned dioxins, which can be very harmful to our body.

This is a very common habit, as it allows us to easily recycle plastic bottles. But if they are exposed to heat sources, we can be in danger since it becomes a potentially chemical solution.

What to do? To reuse or not to reuse plastic bottles.

What about these theories? Over the years, they have been refuted and interesting things have been discovered and demystified urban legends. The most important data are:

  • That dioxins or DEHA agents are not cancer enhancers, so they are not considered carcinogens, according to the EPA.
  • These dioxins are chemical compounds that are created from more than 350 ºC. It is difficult to believe in the heat of a car. And less with freezing, since this prevents the chemical effect from being delayed.
  • Bottles where not even have this chemical in their composition have been studied.
  • There is insufficient evidence to blame that reusing plastic bottles is carcinogenic.

There is another group of chemicals called phthalates, which are sometimes added to plastics to make them more flexible and less brittle. Phthalates are pollutants that can alter hormonal behavior by acting as endocrine disruptors in humans and animals. If you heat food or liquid in these plastics, you could release  phthalates  and BPA, and pass them into the food or liquid you eat.

Due to this controversy, reusing plastic bottles is becoming a bit counterproductive. It is true that there are studies that dispute it, but there are also others that support it. In this type of case, to be sure, it is best not to reuse plastic bottles. Perhaps a better use is recycling, to create other bottles or other objects from which we profit.

Some advices:

  1. Avoid plastic.
  2. Check that the container is suitable for food use.
  3. Check that the packaging is not damaged.
  4. Follow the instructions for use.
  5. Not all plastic containers are microwave safe.
  6. Do not heat food in bags that have not been manufactured for this purpose.
  7. Avoid all types of plastic, PET, HDPE, LDPE, PVC, PP, PS and PC.
  8. Choose a glass container.
  9. Do not wash the plastic containers in the dishwasher.
  10. Do not trust: that a material is “free of bisphenol A” does not mean that it has no contaminants.

What do you think of this topic? What would be your position regarding the reuse of plastic bottles or containers? Share your opinion with us at Ecoinventos.


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