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, the author of Poisoned Pets, is an animal food safety expert and consumer advisor. Help support her work by making a donation today.

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