Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Number seven

So, this is an empty bottle of Arizona iced tea (sorry, the home page is Flash. I really wish people wouldn't have their home page in flash.) I bought three of them, and this is the last. This isn't a returnable bottle. Iced tea has no carbonation, so no deposit/return is required. That's the way it is. But it is plastic, and therefore can be recycled. So, i flipped the bottle over to discover a number 7 in the triangle. It's very hard to see. I tried, but could not get a photo of it. The camera refused to focus on it. There's not much contrast. The raised triangle and number are not raised very high and the plastic is translucent, so even lighting it from a slant angle produced no defined shadows to help in reading it. All this to say, it's not very easy to read.

In truth, if i'd known that it was number seven, i would not have bought it. There are two reasons. From a convenience point of view, my curb side recycling only accepts number 1 plastic and number 2 plastic. So, i must go quite a ways out of my way to recycle number 7 plastic. But the other reason is more interesting. Number 7 plastic has a rather perverse history. The material was originally an attempt at making artificial female hormones, like estrogen. It has been said that you should not refill plastic water bottles because it's unsafe. IMO, if it is unsafe to refill, then it's unsafe to use for food in the first place. I'd like to see the material banned, certainly for food, but probably for everything. After all, if the material makes it to landfill, then it's likely to leach stuff we'd rather not have leached into the environment. Short of banning it, it'd be real nice if Arizona, and other companies would simply stop using it. After all, the stuff is potentially nasty, and what company needs to have a public relations issue on their hands. And if a company like Arizona doesn't do their own local bottling, then they should put the ban into their contracts with their bottling partners.

I'm not particularly worried about the effects of estrogen-like compounds in my own body. I'm an adult. But my kid's development could be affected. What, if any, long term research has been done? Leave a comment if you know anything.


DQKennard said...

The problem of course is that plastic "7" is basically "other", so *some* have the nasty substance (BPA) (nastier than the average nasty plastic). I poked about a bit, and found on their website faq page at the following:

On behalf of Graham Packaging Company we want to make it clear that the 128oz polypropylene plastic bottles that we supply to Arizona Iced Tea do not contain the chemical Bisphenol-A (BPA). Graham sells Arizona Iced Tea 128oz polypropylene plastic bottles that are marked with the Resin Identification Codes (RIC) “5” and the “7” on the base of the bottle to enable material identification and separation during the post-consumer recycling process. Graham has marked this bottle with the RIC “5” to indicate that our 128oz polypropylene plastic bottles are compatible for recycling in the polypropylene stream. Additionally, as recommended in the voluntary guidelines published by the Society of the Plastics Industry (SPI), the Graham 128oz polypropylene bottles are also marked with the RIC “7” because the bottle is made of multi layered materials, predominantly polypropylene and one layer being an oxygen barrier material for maintaining the quality of the beverage.

So, there it is. Apparently you're safe from that particular compound from this source. Interestingly, two of the common sources for contact with BPA are the protective lining on some beverage cans (so avoiding plastic isn't the solution), and some thermal printing papers used in cash registers. Shopping may make your estrogen levels increase?

AliciaMNC said...

Interesting! I was going to point out that baby bottles are plastic #7 too (which is true), but I too did some poking around and learned that #7 plastic covers everything that ISN'T 1-6, like the "etcetera" of plastics. Baby bottles in particular have that "BPA-Free" labeling, as do many other objects. Always wondered what that meant, but not enoug to seek it out heh.. Good to know!

Stephen said...

That's a little better. It safer, but where it isn't is probably harder to track down. It's still not the #1 or #2 that my curbside takes.

Stephen said...

A recent study (wish i could find the link again) showed estrogen-like chemicals leaking out of all sorts of plastics, even when no BPA is present. If the container is cut up, heated, washed, etc., apparently this stuff comes out, and is detectable in some 70% of cases. It's nearly impossible for the consumer to find the good ones. However, this sort of testing should eventually lead to safer plastics.

However, the claim that one should simply stop reusing plastic containers is absurd, IMO. One should stop using plastic containers entirely, until this all settles out.

So, for example, i drink water using a stainless steel mug now. It has the feature that it's insulating, and if i fill it up with ice at home, the ice is usually gone by the end of the day, but my water is still cold.