A new study is released by IPEN* reported a wide range of toxic chemicals in recycled plastic pelleets. The study aimed at increasing the amount of information available about toxic chemicals transferred from plastic waste into recycled plastic pellets globally. Therefore, pellets made from recycled high-density polyethylene, intended for use in new products, were purchased from 24 recycling facilities in 23 countries. The pellets were analyzed to determine the presence of 18 substances, representing three types of toxic chemicals: 11 brominated flame retardants, 6 benzotriazole UV stabilizers and bisphenol A.

None of the samples were free from all the targeted chemicals, and 21 samples contained all three types of chemicals. More than half of the samples contained 11 or more chemicals, and 17 samples contained five or more endocrine disrupting chemicals.

Brominated flame retardants were present in 22 of the samples, with DecaBDE being the most frequently detected, despite its listing under the Stockholm Convention for global elimination in 2017 without any exemptions for recycling. Bisphenol A is increasingly being regulated in many countries because of its health impacts on children but was still detected in 22 of the samples.

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*IPEN (International Pollutants Elimination Network) is a global network of public interest organizations improving chemical policies and raising public awareness to ensure that hazardous substances are no longer produced, used, or disposed of in ways that harm human health and the environment.