Spotting Hidden Plastics In Your Products

Kathryn Manktelow

Book a Hidden Plastics consultation with Chapelton

We don’t profess to being experts on all hidden plastics but if it relates to packaging then we certainly are. Let us help you spot your hidden plastics and help you choose alternatives that will benefit the environment and most importantly, your business.

Hidden plastics are becoming an increasing problem for companies required to, or choosing to, reduce the impact their business is having on the environment. But how do you spot hidden plastics in your supply chain? This is a problem Chapelton are helping many of our customers overcome.

In this blog post I highlight some every day products that you would never imagine contain plastic. Whether these products relate to your business or not they should get you thinking about some of your production processes, raw materials and packaging solutions.

Hidden Plastics

Check out these products with hidden plastics that have been going unnoticed by you. You may be surprised at how many you use every day.

1. Sea Salt

This is an odd one, but maybe we shouldn’t be surprised considering we know the sea is full of plastic. Researchers in Spain found that all 21 types of sea salt they tested contained microplastics. Very similar findings have been produced in research in France, China, and the USA. Chances are that every brand of sea salt contains some levels of microplastics.

2. Makeup

It’s not only microbeads to consider in the cosmetic industry, as we know these have now been banned in all rinse-off products such as shower gels and facial scrubs.

There are however still microplastics found in products such as sun creams and moisturisers. These are not generally rinsed down the drain as you would a face scrub. The microplastics still eventually leave your skin and end up in the environment.

If you are looking to limit your plastic use or go completely plastic free, look out for ingredients such as polyethylene, polypropylene and nylon in your cosmetics and skin care products. Once you start looking, I’m sure you will start to notice their presence more and more.

3. Crisps

Many bags of crisps, the “fancy” ones in particular, are lined with a foil for freshness. But is not really foil. It is a metalised plastic film. Therefore, it is not biodegradable or recyclable.

4. Glass Jars With Lids

Many of us are of the belief that glass jars are a great alternative to using plastics.

People are using them for food storage, and they are extremely popular in the new wave of plastic-free food storage for things like flours & grains etc. These jars, however, contain plastics that are hidden in the lid. The lids are lined with a PVC product that stops corrosion of the metal, but it is also used on the vacuum seal. This is not ideal if you are trying to ditch plastic altogether. However, the lids are widely recycled, and you could hold on to the jars as they will be usable for years to come.

5. Produce Stickers

Ditched the plastic bags for fruits and veggies at the supermarket? Taking your own reusable bag to carry your produce home? Great, but you are maybe not being as plastic free as you think. The stickers stuck all over the produce are made of plastic! However, supermarkets are working on alternatives, so this soon may be a thing of the past.

6. Glitter

Glitter itself is a microplastic. The moment it is created, the super-small particles of plastic get everywhere, just like when you open that glittery greeting card. These sparkling little particles are floating in our waterways and oceans and have an adverse effect on marine life. Maybe it is time to get a little more creative with how you make your life sparkle.

7. Tetra Paks

Tetra Pak cartons are commonly used for storing milk, juice, tomatoes, etc. They are used every day in products we are all familiar with. Many of us would assume they would be easily recycled since they look like cardboard cartons. However, it is not only created using carton board, the most common Tetra Pak carton is 74% paper, 22% polyethylene and 4% aluminium. It is the combination of layers that makes the recycling process difficult and not possible by many local facilities.

8. Tea Bags

There are longer more in-depth explanations of the plastic in teas, but in brief, all tea bags are sealed with polyethylene. In many tea bags, the actual body of the bag is plastic based. This is a plastic that will not break down in your compost bin. There are a few brands selling plastic-free alternatives, but they generally come packaged in plastic, so it’s not always the answer.

9. Clothing

Clothing is one area that is often overlooked but one of the biggest waterway polluters. Synthetics materials, such as polyester, acrylic, and nylon, are made from plastic. With every spin in the washing machine, small parts of this plastic break off and are drained into our waterways through the drainage system. When possible, try to buy only natural materials, such as cotton or hessian. These release only natural degradable fibres.

10. Chewing Gum

Many people wouldn’t dream that their chewing gum was made of plastic. Chewing gum manufacturers don’t tend to admit that their gum contains plastic openly. I assume under the belief that it would put people off buying it.

They list nonspecific ingredients, such as “gum base.” Who knows what gum base is made of? Well, it is polyethylene, the same material used to make plastic bottles. Many brands also contain the same form of rubber that is used to make the inner tubes of tires!

Thankfully, many companies are moving forward with alternatives. Iceland has recently launched their own natural plastic-free chewing gum.

11. Tin/Aluminium Cans

This one really is unexpected. Many people have taken to drinking from cans in recent months and shunned plastic bottles. What many people don’t know is that those cans are lined with plastic, used to stop the metal from corroding. Not only does this diminish the efforts made to go plastic free, but researchers have warned the plastic can leach into the contents and pose a health risk.

The same can be said for tinned foods, such as baked beans, soups, etc. These are often also lined with plastic to stop the food corroding or taking on any of the metal.

What to do about your hidden plastics

It is surprising in a world that is trying to use fewer plastics, that so many products have hidden plastics in them. As a company you may have to ask challenging questions of all your suppliers. You may find that you use more plastic products than you think.

At Chapelton we are staying on the front foot by bringing alternative solutions to our clients. Yes it is part of our commitment to the environment but also a lot of these technologically advanced options are simply better than the traditional plastic alternatives. It is a WIN WIN.

Book your free Hidden Plastics Consultation with us today and we will help you identify plastic free options available to your business.

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