US plastics industry looking to move past ‘seven’

20 May 2009 17:29  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS news)--US technical standards agency ASTM International is developing new resin identification codes to help assuage consumers’ fears about which plastics contain the controversial chemical bisphenol-A (BPA), the group said on Wednesday.

Polycarbonate (PC) items, which contain the plasticizer BPA, a chemical that scientists have linked to numerous health problems, are now stamped with the number seven. Items stamped with “7” fall into a catch-all category of various resins and composites.

Consumers worried about the potential health effects of BPA may mistake any plastic stamped “7” for PC, said ASTM member Alan Kupfer.

“That’s where the problem is - number seven catches so many things. So we’re trying to isolate things out of the number,” Kupfer said.

The group may expand the identification numbers past the original seven, and also introduce methods of marking items composed of multiple resins, Kupfer said. 

ASTM is still reviewing the labeling measure, which could come up for a committee vote in November, Kupfer said. 

The chemical and plastics industries have been taken aback by the public’s growing aversion to BPA, which the National Toxicology Program (NTP) and the Journal of American Medical Association have both linked to heart disease, cancer and developmental problems in infants.

ASTM started the review in April 2008 at the behest of the plastics industry trade association SPI.

SPI first developed the identification system in 1998, but now feels that the seven identification types do not encompass all of the resins now available, including bioplastics, SPI spokesman Barry Eisenberg said.

“New plastics have been invented,” Eisenberg said. “That seven really needs to be expanded.”

For more information on BPA and PC, visit ICIS chemical intelligence
To discuss issues facing the chemical industry, go to ICIS connect

By: Ben Lefebvre
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