FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Plastics|SA would like to ensure there is no lack of wisdom relating to the plastics industry as well as safe and healthy handling of materials and makes it a priority to ensure everyone stays informed. Please see some of our frequently asked questions answered below.
- The truth about bpa
- are water bottles safe?
- is polystyrene safe?
- identifying plastics
- is biodegradable better?
- microwaving in plastic
- are plastic toys safe?
- plastics in healthcare
Does Bisphenol A cause birth defects, genetic effects, and infertility?
There is no scientific evidence that proves that bisphenol A (BPA) causes birth defects, genetic effects, and infertility or indeed that it poses any risk to consumers at realistic levels of exposure. Such claims are not supported by any validated scientific research.
Is Bisphenol A used as a plasticiser in plastics?
Bisphenol A (BPA) is not used as a plasticiser in plastics; it is an intermediate used in the manufacture of either polycarbonate plastic or epoxy resins. More than 99% of BPA is converted into polymers such as polycarbonate plastic and epoxy resins.
Is Bisphenol A harmful to humans at low doses?
Numerous studies show that the level of migration, if any, is far below any safety - based standards set by government bodies such as the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) or the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and such exposure poses no known health risk.
Why have certain countries banned BPA?
As a substance Bisphenol A is not banned anywhere in the world. In fact, extensive scientific testing and governmental reviews worldwide have concluded that human exposure to BPA is very low and within the safe limits set by government authorities. Therefore, there is no regulatory - or science - based reason to stop using a safe product that provides significant benefits to the consumer. However, some countries, including South Africa, have decided to restrict the use of BPA - based material in food contact products for small children (ages 0 -3).
When did South Africa introduce a ban on baby bottles containing BPA?
Various governments around the globe have banned Polycarbonate (PC) baby bottles to respond to consumer concerns. The South African Minister of Health has banned the manufacturing, importation, exportation and sale ofpolycarbonate (PC) baby bottles containing Bisphenol A, as published in the Government Gazette on 21 October 2011.
Plastics|SA supports the banning of baby bottles containing BPA. All plastics food packaging, including baby bottles and other beverage bottles manufactured in South Africa are 100 % BPA free.
Are there other BPA or plastic - related regulations in South Africa you could tell us about?
Bisphenol A (BPA) is a building block of Polycarbonate (PC), from which these plastics are made. It is used for safety glasses, visors and lenses, CD’s. DVDs, computers, power tools etc. BPA is safe for use in its current applications.
Plastics|SA is proud to announce that all food plastics packaging, including baby bottles and other beverage bottles (manufactured in South Africa) are 100 % BPA free, and pose no threat to the consumer’s health or the environment.
Is Bisphenol A an endocrine or hormone disruptor?
Bisphenol A (BPA) does not fulfill the scientific definition of an endocrine disruptor. Like many naturally occurring products and everyday foodstuffs such as carrots, soy beans or other vegetables, BPA shows very weak, estrogen-like effects, and only at extremely high levels. Such levels can realistically never be reached in daily life.
Do Polycarbonate plastic food containers or epoxy coated cans leach high levels of Bisphenol A into food?
Bisphenol A (BPA) does not migrate into food like powder off a surface, as some suggest. In fact, during the production of polycarbonate plastic or epoxy resins, the BPA molecules are firmly bound to one another and are incorporated into the polymeric structure of the plastic itself. As with any other material, there is some potential for extremely small amounts of BPA to migrate. However, numerous studies show that the level of migration is far below any safety-based standards set by government bodies such as the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) or the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and such exposure poses no known health risk. In fact, as stated by EFSA, "after exposure to BPA the human body rapidly metabolises and eliminates the substance." EFSA explicitly considered newborns and small children in their assessment.
Does Bisphenol A cause cancer?
There is no scientific evidence that proves that bisphenol A (BPA) causes cancer, nor that it poses any risk to human health, at realistic levels of exposure. Claims that BPA is linked to cancer, birth defects, genetic effects, or infertility are not supported by robust research studies that have investigated this question. When exposed through diet, humans rapidly metabolise and eliminate BPA (within 24 hours). After assessing over 1,000 studies on BPA, the recent EU Risk Assessment Report reconfirmed its conclusion that BPA does not cause cancer at realistic, very low exposure levels.
Is Bisphenol A used as an additive in plastics?
Bisphenol A (BPA) is not added to polycarbonate plastic or epoxy resins, but is the intermediate which, through polymerisation, becomes these materials. More than 99% of BPA is converted into polymers such as polycarbonate plastic and epoxy resins. Only a very small amount of all BPA produced is used as an essential antioxidant in soft PVC plastics.
Does Bisphenol A lead to obesity in children?
There is no proven link between Bisphenol A (BPA) and childhood obesity. None of the studies conducted according to internationally accepted quality guidelines showed effects on body weight at dose levels relevant to consumers.
Is BPA safe in low doses for adults? Why or why not?
Concerns were raised about the safety of PC products, particularly baby bottles. Very small amounts of BPA can migrate from PC containers into food and drink during use. The debate centres on the actual exposure levels and the relevance of these amounts.
Much research has been done to identify any possible human effects from BPA on the human body, leading to an impressive amount of evidence that supports the safety of BPA for use in its current applications.
Past and present studies confirm that BPA is rapidly absorbed, detoxified and eliminated from the body. The metabolic rate is approximately 4 hours, which means that BPA is essentially entirely eliminated from the body within the day of exposure and does not accumulate in the body.
To play it safe - all plastics food packaging, including baby bottles and other beverage bottles manufactured in South Africa are 100 % BPA free, thus posing no threat to the health of the consumer or the environment.
How does South Africa rate different chemicals, polymers, types of plastics?
In 1998 the plastics industry, through the Society of the Plastics Industry, introduced its voluntary resin identification coding system.
Is it based on international industry standards or do we have our own regulatory bodies?
This international code system was developed to meet recyclers’ needs while providing manufacturers with a consistent, uniform system that could apply nationwide. Please take note that a substantial number of polymers are not listed in the coding system as they are more likely to be used for a longer working lifetime in engineering type applications, e/g sky lights, gutters, washing machines and optical fibre cables.
The numbering system is only used for packaging applications.
Why should you join one of Plastics|SA’s member associations?
Plastics |SA offers the following benefits to our members:
Let your voice be heard
Plastics|SA offers members the unique opportunity to share experience and resolve industryissues through unified action and to influence the South African plastics industry’s strategic direction at all levels from overall policy to standards. The scope also includes liaison with municipalities, government on a provincial and local level, the DTI and the SABS to name a few.
Members can participate in exclusive member only networking events including seminars, meetings, conferences and the Annual Awards Ceremony.
A Global Network
Plastics|SA is at the centre of the global plastics community, developing links with plastic industries around the globe, giving members access to global markets.
Plastics Market Information
Members will have access to detailed plastics information, including information on Research and Development, statistics affecting the plastic industry, recycling information and more.
Members will receive up to date information on new legislation, the government gazette, and other regulatory issues.
Receive up to date industry information on your desktop Via the Plastics|SA Communicator you can receive all the industry information you need on a daily basis. Personalise the information you would like to receive, ensuring that you only receive what you need.
Access official plastics industry position papers on critical and relevant issues regarding plastics as a material and the plastics industry.
Plastics |SA Newsletter
Members have the opportunity to submit industry news to online platforms.
Special discounted rates for Training
Plastics |SA is the leading provider of education and training services in the plastic industry and related sectors. We provide quality, accredited training courses throughout Sub - Saharan Africa, especially designed to meet the needs of the plastic industry. All courses are NQF aligned. Members will receive discounted rates for training.
How can we join?
Plastics|SA offers you and your organisation the opportunity to play an active role in the growth and development of the plastics industry. Together with our associations we can address plastics related issues, influence role players, and make plastics the material of choice.
Join one of our Member Associations below
Association of Rotational Moulders of South Africa
Tel: +27 82 880 4976
Expanded Polystyrene Association of South Africa
Tel: +27 11 622 2922
Plastics Converters Association of SA
Tel: +27 11 653 4789
PET Recycling Company
Tel: +27 860 147 738
Plastics Institute of Southern Africa
Tel: +27 11 314 4021
Polyolefin Recycling Company
Tel: +27 21 531 0647
POLYSTYRENE ASSOCIATION OF SA
Tel: +27 12 259 0554
South African Plastic Pipe Manufacturers Association
Tel: +27 11 314 4021
SA Plastics Recyclers Organisation
Tel: +27 83 654 8967
South African Vinyl Association
Tel: +27 82 444 6866
There are three things to look for when purchasing containers for microwaving purposes: Some products use the term “Microwave Safe;” others carry an imprinted microwave symbol; and other products simply provide instructions for proper microwave use on the packaging label. Any of these is an indication from the manufacturer that a product has been designed for safe use in the microwave in accordance with the directions provided.
Of course, using a plastic item in the microwave that was not labeled for microwave suitability isn’t necessarily unsafe. But unless a product is labeled for microwave suitability, you won’t have the assurance of knowing that an item was tested and evaluated for this purpose.
To play it safe, look for plastics that are labeled for microwave use and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. If your container isn’t labeled for microwave use, it’s best to choose something that is.
Top Tips for microwave heating:
- Choose plastic containers and wraps that are specifically labeled for use in the microwave oven.
- Always read the label and follow any instructions provided by the manufacturer.
- Cover food loosely with plastic wrap when microwaving to help food heat evenly, retain moisture and prevent splatter. Most manufacturers recommend leaving about an inch of space between the wrap and the dish and folding back a corner to allow ventilation.
- If food items are different sizes, place thicker pieces toward the perimeter of the dish, so they will cook faster, and smaller pieces toward the center.
- Open container lids and wraps carefully and facing away from you when removing foods from the microwave, so that hot steam is released safely.
- Dispose of plastic trays provided with microwaveable meals after use. Most packaging trays are intended for one-time use with specific kinds of foods.
From bicycle helmets and flotation devices to kneecaps and other protective sporting gear, plastics help keep children safe every day. Plastic devices can help reduce the risks of accidental injuries.
For close to 50 years, the world’s toymakers have been using plastics to make some of the best known and most popular toys and children’s products. That’s because plastics are one of the most thoroughly tested, well-researched materials on the market today. A good safety record isn’t the only reason the toy industry uses plastics. Its exceptional durability makes it a smart choice for products that must withstand extremely demanding use conditions. Its ability to be formulated in almost infinite ways means that it can be used for both flexible and rigid applications. But the most important reason lies with the ultimate consumers: parents and their children. Plastics give them safe, affordable, durable toys and allow manufacturers to bring them exciting new products quickly and economically.
Are plastics really necessary in modern healthcare?
Modern healthcare would be impossible without plastics medical products we tend to take for granted: disposable syringes, intravenous blood bags and heart valves, etc. Plastics are particularly suitable for medical applications, thanks to their exceptional barrier and lightweight properties, low cost, durability, transparency and compatibility with other materials. Plastics in healthcare has revolutionized the field of medicine making patients safer and procedures simpler.
Reduction in medical costs, infectious disease and pain management
High tech polymers are used to create new and improved artificial limbs and plastic disposable delivery devices have succeeded in reducing the risk of infection to patients.
Thanks to sterile plastics packaging, the US leads the world in keeping the rate of cross-staph infection down. Plastic medical disposables in particular have contributed to keeping the rates low.
The introduction of child-resistant caps keeps potentially harmful medicine out of the hands of children.
Improved quality of Life
Plastics in medicine have improved the quality of life for seniors and for those injured in accidents. Today’s artificial knees and hips rely on plastics to provide people with pain free movement and trouble-free joints. The gloves that surgeons wear are made from soft and pliable plastics that help maintain the sterile atmosphere of hospitals’ operating rooms.
It is highly unlikely that anything can replace plastic in the field of medicine, or that its use will be reduced in the very near future. The medical industry has been greatly improved due to the incorporation of plastics across a whole range of uses in all fields of medicine.