You’ve most likely seen the labels BPA-Free, pthalate-free, and even recently, dioxin and PFAs-free. These chemicals are industry standards for making it easier to manufacture more things out of plastics. They make plastics flow, stick, not stick, bend, be rigid, repel water or oil, recover shape, you name it. Sadly for all of us, these chemicals also do harm to living things. At Geosphere, we prohibit our manufacturers from using these chemicals, however convenient. Further, we only use materials that have been certified to be free of these toxins. To us, the long term human and planetary health cost far far outweighs the short term benefit of even more cheap convenience. The good news? You CAN make things that do no harm!
“Plastic is made from fossil fuel byproducts; incinerating it has a climate impact similar to that of burning crude oil.”
Bloomberg Green, March 29, 2022
In response to the crisis of plastic waste, general waste management practices worldwide are under scrutiny. Because managed landfills aren’t accessible in many parts of the world including areas of the U.S., disaster response entities have historically either left their plastic and electronic waste in piles or pits for locals to deal with, or burned everything. Whatever is in the pit ends up in the resulting smoke, a deadly mix of carbon dioxide, toxic fumes and harmful airborne metallic particles small enough to enter the lungs. The resulting ash is poisonous, and leaches mercury, dioxins, pthalates and PFAs into surrounding soil and water tables below.
You can read more about the practice, and ongoing cost to military veteran health in this January 2022 article: https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/11/magazine/military-burn-pits.html
Originally known under the trademark “Teflon”, versions of the chemical PFAs (polyfluoroalkyl substances) are used today in a wide variety of applications to make things non-stick and oil resistant. Nicknamed forever chemicals PFAs take centuries to break down in the environment, and easily migrate from our waste streams into our soil, water and bodies. PFAs are linked to increases in cancer rates, human infertility, and compromised immunity. When Geosphere started developing sugar cane fiber (’bagasse’) bowls and containers for customers in 2019, we required that PFAs were omitted from the production process and then subsequently verified that all of our products tested PFAs-free. In a quest to minimize PFAs in our soils and food supply, the Biological Products Institute has instituted a PFAs ban on any compostable product before it can earn BPI compostable status, effective January 2020. The U.S. Congress is currently considering a bill to ban PFAs from all food packaging in the U.S. by 2024.