Food packaging containing polyvinyl chloride (PVC) would be banned from Nov. 1 next year, the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) said yesterday.
Taiwan Watch Institute
secretary-general Herlin Hsieh (謝和霖) applauded the move, but said that the policy should be more ambitious and ban all containers using PVC.
Photo courtesy of the Environmental Protection Administration
PVC packaging might release plasticizers when used to store liquids, he said, adding that vinyl chloride — which is associated with an increased risk of liver cancer — might be released during the production of the widely used synthetic plastic polymer.
Construction materials are the main area in which PVC is used, and wooden furniture is often coated with the material, he said.
However, 25 to 40 percent of PVC containers and bags produced in the past three years have come into contact with food, Hsieh said.
When burned, PVC containers release dioxins and heavy metals that are added during production as stabilizers, he said.
While incinerators use filters to catch these materials, contaminated ashes from PVC containers might still leach into the ground from landfills, he said.
The use of PVC products for storing food could lead to PVC ingestion, Hsieh said.
Toys that contain the material might also be accidentally swallowed by children, he added.
A Japanese study showed that when lunchboxes are prepared by a person wearing gloves containing PVC, residues from the material might contaminate the food, he said.
The EPA should require businesses to add a specific label to PVC products, instead of labeling them more generally as containing plastics, Hsieh said.
The PVC content of a product should also be considered during recycling, according to the difficulty in extracting the material, Hsieh said.
The EPA has raised processing fees to NT$87 per kilogram to deter packaging manufacturers from using PVC, which has proved effective, EPA Recycling Fund Deputy Secretary-General Wei Wen-yi (魏文宜) said.
The agency would work toward realizing a PVC-free environment, as this is in the interest of the public, Wei said.
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