Recycling of plastic waste: Presence of phthalates in plastics from households and industry

Kostyantyn Pivnenko, Marie Kampmann Eriksen, J. A. Martín-Fernández, Eva Eriksson, Thomas Fruergaard Astrup

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    Plastics recycling has the potential to substitute virgin plastics partially as a source of raw materials in plastic product manufacturing. Plastic as a material may contain a variety of chemicals, some potentially hazardous. Phthalates, for instance, are a group of chemicals produced in large volumes and are commonly used as plasticisers in plastics manufacturing. Potential impacts on human health require restricted use in selected applications and a need for the closer monitoring of potential sources of human exposure. Although the presence of phthalates in a variety of plastics has been recognised, the influence of plastic recycling on phthalate content has been hypothesised but not well documented. In the present work we analysed selected phthalates (DMP, DEP, DPP, DiBP, DBP, BBzP, DEHP, DCHP and DnOP) in samples of waste plastics as well as recycled and virgin plastics. DBP, DiBP and DEHP had the highest frequency of detection in the samples analysed, with 360 μg/g, 460 μg/g and 2700 μg/g as the maximum measured concentrations, respectively. Among other, statistical analysis of the analytical results suggested that phthalates were potentially added in the later stages of plastic product manufacturing (labelling, gluing, etc.) and were not removed following recycling of household waste plastics. Furthermore, DEHP was identified as a potential indicator for phthalate contamination of plastics. Close monitoring of plastics intended for phthalates-sensitive applications is recommended if recycled plastics are to be used as raw material in production.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalWaste Management
    Pages (from-to)44-52
    Number of pages9
    Publication statusPublished - 2016


    • Waste Management and Disposal
    • Compositional data
    • Contaminants
    • Endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs)
    • Quality recycling
    • Solid waste
    • Chemicals
    • Elastomers
    • Endocrine disrupters
    • Esters
    • Impurities
    • Manufacture
    • Plastic products
    • Plastics applications
    • Potassium compounds
    • Recycling
    • Solid wastes
    • Solvents
    • Analytical results
    • Endocrine disrupting chemicals
    • Plastics manufacturing
    • Plastics recycling
    • Potential indicators
    • Product manufacturing
    • Sensitive application
    • Plastics industry


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