When scientists examined pellets from recycled plastic collected in 13 countries they found hundreds of toxic chemicals, including pesticides and pharmaceuticals. The results are published in a study led by scientists at the University of Gothenburg.
Because of this, the scientists judge recycled plastics unfit for most purposes and a hinder in the attempts to create a circular economy.
“Plastic recycling has been touted as a solution to the plastics pollution crisis, but toxic chemicals in plastics complicate their reuse and disposal and hinder recycling,” says Professor Bethanie Carney Almroth, of the University of Gothenburg.
In a study, published in Data in Brief, led by Carney Almroth, plastic pellets from plastic recycle plants in 13 different countries in Africa, South America, Asia and Eastern Europe were found to contain hundreds of chemicals, including numerous highly toxic pesticides.
In total, 491 organic compounds were detected and quantified in the pellets, with an additional 170 compounds tentatively annotated. These compounds span various classes, including pesticides, pharmaceuticals, industrial chemicals, plastic additives.