Some vividly-colored shopping bags may contain high concentrations of lead, but the plastic bag industry has improved overall compliance, according to a new US report from The Toxics in Packaging Clearinghouse (TPCH).
TPCH tested the inks used in 125 single-use shopping and mailing bags for the presence of lead, cadmium, mercury and hexavalent chromium.
Two yellow bags and one vibrant red bag contained about one per cent lead relative to the bags’ weight.
“Although these substances may pose little direct risk to the average consumer handling the packaging, when the packaging material is disposed of in landfills or incinerators, these toxic metals can enter the environment and pose a risk to health and safety,” said a December 11, 2012 announcement from the Clearinghouse.
Only one of the three bags indicated its country of origin. To the surprise of researchers, the bag was made in the US.
An earlier screening project by the Clearinghouse, released in 2007, showed almost 17 per cent non-compliance for a total of 60 screened plastic shopping bags.
Clearinghouse noted it was encouraged by the new screening results, which it said “may indicate manufacturers and distributors of plastic shopping and mailing bags are paying more attention to sourcing and testing for compliance with toxics in packaging laws.”
TPCH assists implementation of US states' packaging laws for toxic substances.
The full report is available here.