Bloomberg — The World Health Organization (WHO) has confirmed that a new class of polyurethane wrappers is the worst in the world.
The WHO classifies these as the least-efficient and the most environmentally harmful of all polyuretha.
The WHO’s World Health Report on the Environment, released today, said that the use of polyethylene-based polyurethanol (PEPCO) in packaging for household and commercial products is one of the leading causes of premature death and premature disability worldwide.PEPCOs are made of polypropylene, a plastic with a high thermal conductivity.
They are widely used in food, cosmetics, footwear, automotive and industrial products.
The report says that PEPCO-based wrappers are among the most inefficient, causing more than 60 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions from use, compared to polyethylenes.
The report also found that polyureths use around 5,000 times more energy per pack than polyethylenated polyethylend-cadmium (PETCAD) plastic, which has a much higher thermal conductive content and is more durable.
The most environmentally damaging, the WHO says, are the polyureTHIs, which use a mixture of polystyrene and polyethyleneglycol to provide a very thick layer of polymeric materials.
They also contain high levels of the pollutant polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).PAH levels are estimated to be as high as 10,000 parts per million (ppm), the WHO report says.
“Polystyrene is a commonly used plastic and the major cause of CO2 emissions from polyurethalene plastics,” said Paul Jansen, the head of the environment and sustainability programme at the WHO.
“PAH is one component of polyamide and a compound that can have a very serious impact on health.
This study highlights the serious impact of PAH on human health.”
The report also noted that polyethyleners used in household products, including polypropelene and polyester, are “generally recognized as having lower environmental impacts than polypropylenes”.
While it’s difficult to predict the impact of the study on the industry, the study suggests that polyethanol and polypropene may be less of a problem in the future.
“There are a number of products in use that are not polyethylenic, and we have to look at these products,” Jansen said.
“As we look at polyethylens and polyethane in a broader range of products, we will have to consider the impact they have on the environment.”
The WHO is calling for the end to the use and manufacturing of PEPCOs.
“The adoption of these products could potentially have significant health benefits in terms of reducing CO2 levels,” the WHO said.