How safe is Tupperware, and other plastic containers?

18 03 2009

There has been a lot of talk about what plastic is safe to reuse, and what is not. Well, I’ve looked it up, and I’m now going to present you with the facts.

First of all, there are different sorts of plastic, used for different purposes. They are categorized in accordance with what raw material was used to produce the product. Here are the different categories:

plastics6

According to The Green Guide, a website and magazine focusing on promoting greener living and owned by the National Geographic Society,the safest plastics for repeated use in storing food are from categories 2, 4 and 5.

Tupperware. Most Tupperware containers are made from #4 or #5 plastics. However, some of their products are made from polycarbonate, #7, which has been shown to leak the harmful, hormone-disrupting chemical Bisphenol A (BPA) into food items after repeated use. The following Tupperware products are made from polycarbonate (#7): the Rock ‘N Serve microwave line, the Ice Prisms line, the Meals-in-Minutes Microsteamer, the “Elegant” Serving Line, the TupperCare baby bottle, the Pizza Keep’ N Heat container, and the Table Collection (the last three are no longer made but might still be found in your kitchen).

The Sheerly Elegant Line

The Sheerly Elegant Line

Ice Prisms Pitcher and Tumbler set

Ice Prisms Pitcher and Tumbler set

The Rock'n'Serve Line

The Rock 'N Serve Line

Bisphenol A (BPA). So what is BPA really, and how harmful is it? Bisphenol A is a key industrial chemical used to make polycarbonate, which is a hard, clear plastic. Studies made by governments in the US, Europe and Japan, as well as studies conducted by academic researchers and by industry, show that under typical use conditions, the migration of BPA into food is extremely low. The more I read about this topic the more sources I find that tell me there’s no reason to worry about migration of harmful amounts of BPA into food when using #7 plastic food containers.

In my opinion, there is more reason to worry about some of those other categories, like #1 and #3.

#1 PET bottles. How many of you have NEVER used a PET-bottle more than once? Not many I guess. Most of us use these bottles more than once. As for me, I do not drink soda drinks, but I do drink water, and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve bought a nice/cool looking water bottle, with the purpose of reusing it several times before throwing it out. Normally I drink tap water, but since I’m one of those people who carry a water bottle wherever they go I do buy water bottles for this purpose. This will stop NOW. I took a look at the water bottles in the store last time I was there, and turns out almost every single one of them was made out of #1 plastic. Bottles made from this plastic are proven to leak carcinogenic, hormone-disrupting phthalates when used over and over again.

#3 PVC plastics. PVC can leak cancer-causing dioxins, which is one of the most toxic environmental pollutant there is. PVC is found in a wide range of consumer products, such as packaging, credit cards, bottles and imitation leather, as well as in construction material, such as window frames, cables, pipes, window blinds, wallpaper and flooring. In addition to that it is used in car interiors and in hospitals, as medical disposables. However, PVC does not only leak harmful additives during use (recent testing has showed that children can ingest hazardous chemicals from PVC toys etc) – already the production of PVC creates and releases dioxin and PVC products continue to leak harmful additives during disposal, when they’re burned or buried. Burning creates and releases more dioxins and compounds containing chlorine, which further contaminates the environment. Furthermore, phthalates are present in this category as well. They are added to PVC to make it soft and flexible. PVC is difficult to recycle, resulting in much of it ending up in landfills – which we all know is the least favorable outcome from an environmental point of view. Governments and industry are taking action to eliminate PVC. Danish and Swedish governments are restricting PVC use, hundreds of communities worldwide are eliminating PVC in buildings and many companies such as Nike, IKEA and The Body Shop have committed to eliminating PVC from their products. Many deli items are packed in PVC plastic containers, so swapping foods out of such wraps one the groceries are home is advicable.

#6 plastics (polystyrene, also known as styrofoam). Containers made of polystyrene can also be dangerous, as its base component, styrene, has been associated with skin, eye and respiratory irritation, depression, fatigue, compromised kidney function, and central nervous system damage. Take-out restaurant orders often come in polystyrene containers, which also should be emptied into safer containers once you get them home.

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So, if your head is spinning and you don’t know which plastics are safe and which are not – use glass containers, like Pyrex, and stop worrying! ;)

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Sources: (other than the links found in the blog post)

What material is used in Tupperware products

Earth Talk – How safe is Tupperware?

More to read:

Dangers of heating food in plastic – goodhousekeeping.com

Bisphenol A – fact sheet – Government of Canada

Plastics and the Microwave – U.S. Food and Drug Administration

European Food Safety Authority re-evaluates safety of Bisphenol A and sets Tolerable Daily Intake

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22 responses

18 03 2009
wonker

Interesting blog, I’ll try and spread the word.

18 03 2009
Topics about Dogs and Life with Pets » How safe is Tupperware, and other plastic containers?

[...] GupShup Forums added an interesting post on How safe is Tupperware, and other plastic containers?Here’s a small excerpt#1 PET bottles. How many of you have NEVER used a PET-bottle more … I took a look at the water bottles in the store last time I was there, and [...]

19 03 2009
Topics about Recycle » How safe is Tupperware, and other plastic containers?

[...] CBS 2 Palm Springs placed an interesting blog post on How safe is Tupperware, and other plastic containers?Here’s a brief overviewPVC is difficult to recycle, resulting in much of it ending up in … More to read: Dangers of heating food in plastic – goodhousekeeping.com [...]

9 04 2009
evepassurge

FANTASTIC!

10 04 2009
careandvalue

Thanks ;)

9 04 2009
How to Get Your Ex Back

The style of writing is quite familiar to me. Did you write guest posts for other bloggers?

10 04 2009
careandvalue

Nope, I have not written guest posts for other blogs, I guess it’s just a coincidence. ..

12 04 2009
Illitte

hmm… really like it

24 04 2009
Random T.

Not that I’m totally impressed, but this is more than I expected for when I stumpled upon a link on Delicious telling that the info is quite decent. Thanks.

24 04 2009
careandvalue

Thanks for the feedback, I’ll try to keep it up, I’ve got quite a few interesting topics in the same area waiting to be written :)

10 06 2009
Tap water vs. bottled water – which is better? « Vision

[...] Among the risks with bottled water is the fact that plastics used to make the bottles is not safe, since it may leak hazardous chemicals into the water. Phthalate is a chemical often used in water bottles since it makes the plastic softer and less brittle. But when heated they begin to leach into the contents of the bottle – even the heat from leaving the bottle in a car a hot day may be enough. Most water bottles are made from the resin #1 polyethylene terephthalate (PET or PETE) (a safe plastic if used only once). However, when reused, as they commonly are, they can leach chemicals such as DEHA, a possible human carcinogen, and benzyl butyl phthalate (BBP), a potential hormone disruptor. Phthalates can cause reproductive difficulties, liver problems and increased risk of cancer. While phthalates are regulated in tap water, the FDA maintains an exemption for bottled water. Also, because the plastic is porous you’ll likely get a swill of harmful bacteria with each gulp if you reuse #1 plastic bottles. To read more about hazardous plastics, see my earlier blog post: “How safe is Tupperware?…” [...]

8 09 2009
Laura Lee

http://www.plasticfreebottles.com/pdf/Understanding-Plastic-Codes.pdf
Will give more “FACTS”. Read about #7, #5 & #4, then correspond with Tubberware’s website and their product information code list (http://order.tupperware.com/coe/app/tup_widget.show_page?fv_page_code=prodcodes&fv_section_name=help&fv_category_code=search&fv_item_category_code=200530). I though this showed most of the items I own and use, the bottoms are #7. I think I’ll start using glass.

16 11 2009
Leona

How bout starbucks tumblers?

13 05 2010
careandvalue

Starbuck tumblers to my knowledge use #7 plastic – but they have many different mugs and tumblers, so some of them might actually be made of some other plastic. They do, however, market their tumblers nicely as made with “post-consumer recycled content” to a certain degree (e.g. I’ve seen tumblers made from 28% and 100% recycled material). The question is – does the fact that it’s made out of recycled material negate the fact that it says #7 on the bottom?

16 05 2010
The continuum of the plastic bottle/container discussion « Vision

[...] continuum of the plastic bottle/container discussion 16 05 2010 My blog post How safe is Tupperware, and other plastic containers draws a lot of readers to this blog. Just as a follow up on this blog post, I would like to shed [...]

21 09 2010
carmine marcantonio

In the statement below, it states that some Tupperware is made of # 7 which is no good. how do we know what type or years #7 is/was nade.

Tupperware. Most Tupperware containers are made from #4 or #5 plastics. However, some of their products are made from polycarbonate, #7, which has been shown to leak the harmful, hormone-disrupting chemical Bisphenol A (BPA) into food items after repeated use. The following Tupperware products are made from polycarbonate (#7): the Rock ‘N Serve microwave line, the Ice Prisms line, the Meals-in-Minutes Microsteamer, the “Elegant” Serving Line, the TupperCare baby bottle, the Pizza Keep’ N Heat container, and the Table Collection (the last three are no longer made but might still be found in your kitchen).

1 03 2011
Plastic Container

The images given in the blog is most beautiful.

3 01 2012
Know Your Plastic « Go Green with Tupperware

[...] How safe is Tupperware, and other plastic containers? There are different sorts of plastic, used for different purposes. They are categorized in accordance with what raw material was used to produce the product. Here are the different categories: [...]

29 04 2013
printable coupons

I am extremely inspired together with your writing skills as well
as with the layout on your blog. Is this a paid topic or did
you modify it yourself? Anyway keep up the excellent quality writing, it’s rare to see a nice blog like this one these days..

29 04 2013
Grover

I was suggested this blog by my cousin. I am not sure whether this post is written by him as no one else know such detailed about my difficulty.
You are amazing! Thanks!

3 07 2013
spice rack

I was suggested this web site by my cousin.
I’m no longer sure whether this post is written by way of him as nobody else recognise such special approximately my trouble. You are wonderful! Thank you!

1 08 2013
Manju]

tupperware products are really good for health & it looks most beautiful.

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