Vegetarians: You won’t believe what’s in plastic

Everything, from plastic pet dishes, plastic dog bones, plastic fountains, plastic toys, plastic wrap, plastic packaging — plastic-anything — might have been made with rendered animal by-products.

Gross, huh?

Just when you thought you had your vegan act together, you discover something you once thought of as mostly benign –  is made using, in part, dead animal parts. And not just from livestock, but if you have any familiarity with the rendering industry, you can bet some of the animal by-products used to manufacture plastic might contain the remains of dead dogs and cats and other euthanized pets.

Basically, without getting too chem-tech on you, plastics packaging products requires certain additives to obtain the “necessary processing characteristics of physical properties”. These additives, technically known as stearates, are blended compounds derived from animal fats processed by the disgusting rendering industry. Animal stearates are used in numerous other products, such as foods, beverages, cosmetics, medicines and other types of packaging. So, good luck trying to avoid them.

Mercifully, vegans, and other hippy-do-gooders like me, will have the option of opting out of plastic made with animal by-products — a logo. That’s right, another eco-label to look out for. This one will be a new symbol, ERC®, that has been officially registered and will identify animal-free plastic.

The logo, hailed by health-conscious hippies worldwide, will also be important to such groups as Hindu, Kosher, Muslim, Seventh Day Adventists, and, of course, the animal welfare crowd: Vegans and vegetarians.

The company also has plans to eventually launch its own line of tree-hugging, planet friendly, eco-groovy BPA-free, non-GMO storage bowls and containers in addition to its certification of plastics for key manufacturers. I hesitate to mention it (by giving them a plug), as I would much rather encourage you to eschew plastics all together and opt for something truly sustainable: Glass. Good ol’ fashioned glass.

Animal by-products are just one of the many, many reasons to kick the plastic habit. One reason is that our massive plastic habit has created its own eco-system, complete with islands made entirely of floating plastic trash the size of Texas can be found floating in the world’s oceans. Another, is that marine life is being threatened by the consumption of masses of little itty bitty bits of plastic, that in turn are consumed by humans and other animals.

One way or another, plastic is in your life whether you want it to be there or not.

The creepy chemicals in plastics are legion: Endocrine disrupting chemicals, BPA, phfalates, by-products from oil refining, dyes, just to name a few of the chemicals used to make plastics. All those chemicals in plastics carry a lot of eco-conscious baggage.

For more information about the ERC® label, go to kosherplastic.com or halalplastic.com.

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Mollie Morrissette

Mollie Morrissette, author of Poisoned Pets, is an animal food safety expert and advisor to AAFCO. Help support her work by making a donation today.

Comments (3) Write a comment

  1. Your observation that “our massive plastic habit has created its own eco-system,” discussing the horrific impact our reliance on plastic has on the environment, is important. The ceaseless disregard we have for our treatment of the “world” as we conduct our ordinary lives, is one that all humans need to be reminded about. I’m glad you include that in your essay. Much marine life endures agonizing life (and eventually death) as they consume discarded plastic that may mimic edible “prey” in color, size, and shape. It’s awful to think about. But it doesn’t stop us or even make us think much about our use of plastic.

    Reply

    • I often wonder if people don’t just think I’m some elitist vegan and write me off as some eco-nut-job, I suppose if they did they’d be right! But still I hope my message comes through in an honest way and not as an elitist, plastic-bashing, vegan, hippy-do-gooder. I can’t be effective if no one wants to listen to my views, so I try not to alienate my readers by talking down to them. I don’t expect everyone to be a do-gooder, just to think about what their choices mean.

      Reply

  2. Hi Mollie:

    Disturbing, but true. There are animal by-products in so many things, from many brands of tires to Snapple Ice Tea. It is hard to escape. Even without some of the awful ingredients you mention in your post, plastic really is an animal-derived product – it’s made from petroleum (as is rayon), which is derived from fossils. Well, you know all this already.

    Thank you for all you do!

    Reply

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