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Finnish industry lobby: Plastic bottles are safe

The Finnish plastics industry lobby says its members are taking steps in response to a major international report on microplastics in bottled water.

Vettä kaadetaan muovipullosta vesilasiin.
Researchers found microscopic bits of plastic in most samples of bottled water. Image: Pixabay

The CEO of the Finnish Plastics Industries Federation (FIPIF), Vesa Kärhä, tells Yle he has received calls on Thursday from people worried about microplastics in food and beverage products.

That followed a report on microplastics published earlier in the day by Yle, the BBC and other media outlets. It was based on a major international study commissioned by the nonprofit journalism group Orb Media. The report found that major brands of bottled water contained tiny bits of plastic, mostly too small to be seen by the naked eye. Some 260 bottles from 11 brands in nine countries were tested.

The average across all brands was 325 particles per litre. The highest content, of more than 10,000 particles, was found in some bottles of Nestlé Pure Life water. The company says its own testing shows much lower incidence.

Only two of the brands are sold in Finland: Evian and San Pellegrino (produced by Nestlé). They were found to contain up to 256 and 74 particles per litre respectively – the latter containing the lowest average of the brands tested. Researchers noted that the kinds of plastic floating in the water typically matched the type used for the bottle caps.

“Extra measures have been launched”

Kärhä says that bottling companies are convinced by the study.

“Extra measures have already been launched, and the big beverage brands have been carrying out extra inspections today,” he says.

“Research is developing all the time. We’re keeping our feelers out and awaiting further information,” Kärhä adds.

In a statement released on Thursday in response to the news, the Finnish plastic industry lobby stressed that there are strict rules on materials used for plastic beverage bottles, as well as on how the products are manufactured and used.

It says that properly produced and handled plastic packaging, including bottle caps, should not shed microplastics as suggested by the report.

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