Your Health

Black Plastic is Everywhere, but Is It Actually Good For You?

Here's why you might actually want to avoid it

Remember that takeout container you had last night? What color was it? It probably was black, right? While those flexible, bendy and just the right size for packing leftovers boxes might seem perfect, they are far from it. The black color of the plastics actually masks a lot more than that last piece of sesame chicken hiding in the corner.

So what’s the deal?

Black plastics are often used for ready-meals in the freezer section or to hold fruits and vegetables in the produce section of a supermarket (1). They’re also readily used by restaurants to pack take out orders (1). Basically, black plastics are in realllllyyy high demand. However, unlike regular plastics, black plastics can’t be recycled. Lasers are traditionally used in recycling plants to separate different types of plastics, but because of its dark color, the lasers can’t identify black plastics from other forms of plastics (1). Black plastics currently make up 15 percent of domestic plastic waste because it’s just not economically feasible to recycle black plastic products (1). So, maybe you’re asking what’s this got to do with your health? We’re answering that one below.

How does it impact my health?

Well, since black plastics can’t be recycled, it’s a dead end plastic that doesn’t make a large profit. Because of this, many manufacturers have looked into using other types of plastics (already at their end of life) to turn into black plastics, instead of going through the hassle and resources of creating black plastics from scratch (1). One of the largest groups of plastics that are used by the black plastics industry is waste electronic and electrical equipment (WEEE) (1). It may sound like a fun name, but the plastic used in WEEEs contain all sorts of nasty chemicals like chlorine and brominated flame retardants (1,3). Exposure to brominated flame retardants can cause negative endocrine and reproductive health effects as well as cause changes to behavior (2). You don’t want either of these chemicals getting into your food!

What can I use instead of black plastics?

Lucky for you, there are lots of choices besides black plastics, and you can easily avoid plastics altogether. Here are some safer and healthier choices.