Plastics materials are generally inert and lend themselves to product safety critical situations such as food and pharma packaging, toys, medical devices and even medical implants.
The safety of plastics materials and products in the hands of users and consumers is of paramount importance to individual companies and to the industry as a whole. The logistical and cost problems associated with exercises such as product recalls, the possibilities of protracted litigation under product liability legislation as well as the damage to a company's image through media spotlighting of a product failure, are issues enterprises will want to avoid. For the industry, an individual company's product safety problem can threaten the continuing ability of an entire industry to manufacture and distribute a particular product. Ultimately, the reputation of plastics materials as a whole is threatened.
EU and UK regulation (e.g. REACH and Food Contact Legislation) and media coverage of plastics are monitored by the BPF Product Safety Committee: REACH and Regulatory Issues .
The Committee focuses on the key issues surrounding;
- chemicals policy - REACH
- plastics in contact with foodstuffs
- plastics in medical applications
- plastics in potable water applications
- plastics in toy applications
- general product liability issues
- crisis management and media scares
Analysing the potential impact of REACH and how it will affect all levels of the plastics supply chain is the key focal area currently under discussion.
Through BPF Activity, lobbying and prticipation in BSI and CEN Committees, formulation of standards surrounding the safe usage of plastics are ensured.
Chemicals and Additives Issues
From time to time, the media is keen to exploit issues surrounding the use of certain chemicals/additives in plastics packaging materials, as a potential health concern. These issues are generally fuelled by pressure groups on highly precautionary grounds, and are often based on a misunderstanding of the scientific principles involved or a misleading impression of the genuine risks to consumers.
Recently notable attention has been given to -
- Phthalate Plasticisers -
- Bisphenol-A: An intermediate in the production of polycarbonate
: The number of patents in the area of nanotechnology has increased significantly over recent years, and it is estimated that Research and Development in this field, in Europe alone, is in excess of 1 billion Euros. The growing interest in the field of nano technology has led to much discussion amongst NGO groups, regulators and the media. To view the BPF Position statement on the use of nano materials in plastic articles please click here.
Hazard and Risk - How they differ
Many of the product safety issues surrounding the safety of chemicals in plastics are based on a misunderstanding of the difference between a "hazard" and a "risk". The words are often used as if they mean the same thing, when in fact there is a fundamental difference.
A hazard is the way in which an object or situation may cause harm - for example an icy road or a fire are both hazards.
A risk is the chance that a person will be harmed by a hazard, existing where a person is exposed to such a hazard - for example, driving on an icy road carries a risk.
A rough rule of thumb is: Risk = hazard + exposure
have produced a handy leaflet
explaining the differences between risk and hazard.
Seminars and Events
Through the work of its Product Safety Committee, the BPF devises and holds regular seminars to update industry stakeholders from the member community. For more information on forthcoming events, click here
The Annual BPF REACH Seminar allows experts from industry and representatives from the the relevant government departments and customer industries to update users on the latest developments in Europe. For more information on the next seminar in this highly successful series, click here
. BPF Members can download technical papers from previous seminars by visiting the seminar archive