A recent letter to the editor (“Single Use,” 10/31) included an inaccurate statement alleging that polystyrene food containers can be harmful to human health. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has determined for more than 50 years that polystyrene containers are safe. The U.S. National Toxicology Program, the U.S. National Institutes of Environmental Health Sciences and the European Food Safety Authority have all reached similar conclusions.
Styrene is a component of many consumer products but can also be present naturally in many foods and beverages, including cinnamon, beef, coffee beans, peanuts, wheat, strawberries and even beer. In some cases, potential human exposure to styrene can be higher from these products than from using a polystyrene cup.
We recognize the need for industry to do its part to reduce and recover the materials we produce. We’ve set our own target that 100 percent of plastic packaging be recyclable or recoverable by 2030, initiated projects to better sort and process plastic packaging so that it can be recycled domestically, and our member companies, including one based in Oregon, are developing new and innovative plastics recovery technologies.
To learn more about these initiatives and other information about plastic packaging, visit plasticpackagingfacts.org.
Tim Shestek, American Chemistry Council, Sacramento, California