No doubt in your packed lunch bag there is a bottle containing water or a soft drink. Usually, we worry about what might be in our sandwich and the harm it could cause our body (hint: processed meat or sugary treats), but what if your drinks bottle is the real threat?
When you pick up a bottle of drink do you consider what might have gone into its manufacture? Or the chemicals that may have been used to produce it. These chemicals may not be harmful to our bodies, but they may be to the environment and wildlife around us.
Let’s have a look at a few of the materials which go into making the disposable plastic bottle.
Bisphenol A (BPA)
BPA is an industrial chemical used to produce goods including disposable water bottles, epoxy resins and even till receipts. There is some concern that there could be harmful effects if BPA leaches into our food and drink.
However, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) have admitted that although we do consume some of this chemical when it comes into contact with our food or drink, we probably don’t ingest enough for it to cause any harm.
From an environmental perspective, BPA is a contaminant which is harmful to the environment. The main concern associated with BPA is the fact it is an ‘endocrine disruptor’, and so can mimic the behaviour of animal hormones. Fish can be exposed to BPA if their environment has been contaminated.
If animals are exposed to BPA, studies have shown that it can affect reproduction and brain development. There is little evidence to show BPA effects human health.
17 million barrels of oil are used every year to make the world’s plastic bottles. Around 4% of the world’s yearly petroleum production is turned into plastic, and half of these are used for single-use packaging and consumer items.
Crude oil is distilled in an oil refinery to separate it into fractions or lighter components. Once of these fractions is called naphtha and is crucial to produce plastics.
Water is also a crucial ingredient in the manufacture of plastic bottles. In fact, it takes at least 2 times the amount of water to make a bottle as the amount it actually contains.
The manufacture of disposable water bottles occurs in stages and the above materials are just some of the components which may be used to make the bottle you see on shelves every day.