With a few clicks of the mouse, people can access the latest news on their computers virtually as soon as it happens. And for those who use the Internet to research products for safety issues before making purchase decisions, the latest news regarding bisphenol A is likely to cast more doubt about the safety of some plastic products.
According to a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, preliminary findings show that people with higher levels of BPA in their systems had higher rates of heart disease, diabetes and liver abnormalities.
While these findings definitely warrant further research and testing before we consider them fact, they still have significant meaning to plastics manufacturers that are looking for ways to reassure the public that their products are safe. Could this latest study be the proverbial “straw that broke the camel's back”? And what does this mean for those of us in the plastics industry going forward?
At Rotuba, we recognized early on there was a need to produce an eco-friendly biopolymer that was both BPA and phthalate free. Many savvy consumers are becoming more conscientious when it comes to purchasing only those products that are made with sustainable and safer materials. They are particularly cautious when it comes to the health of their families, and recent news related to the possible health risks of BPA, coupled with an increased public interest in helping protect our environment, is only serving to fuel those concerns.
Think the demand for sustainable, safer products is just a fad? Consider the following: According to InformationWeek.com, 80 percent of shoppers believe it is important to buy from green companies, while 52 percent will buy a product if it benefits the health of their family.
Sustainable materials that are BPA and phthalate free are a logical solution and the next step in changing right along with the current consumer climate. While skeptics may question the value, durability and costs associated with using biopolymers vs. other plastics, the truth remains that demand for more of these materials shows no signs of weakening.
New innovations in the growing sector of sustainable materials are being discovered year after year, including the use of raw materials such as cotton or trees in the creation of certain types of biopolymers. In addition, “green” is becoming more mainstream than ever before and is no longer just a catchy buzzword. Forward-thinking companies that use plastics in their products should begin to look for more sustainable options that are BPA and phthalate free to answer the call for safer, eco-friendly products.
The shift to more biopolymers being used in the plastics industry will only gain momentum as new federal bans on BPA-based products loom on the horizon based on the results of this new study. It makes sense to take action now and consider the value of biopolymers in the effort to change public perception that plastics are harmful to your health.
As plastics manufacturers, we owe it to the public to offer eco-conscious alternatives that are sustainable, safe and viewed as a step in the right direction to offset the growing public concern over plastics.
As we've all heard by now — it's not easy being green. But in the long run, it may well be worth the journey to get there.
Bell is president of Linden, N.J.-based Rotuba Extruders Inc., a compounder and extruder of sheet and profiles.