Plastics Primer: Know Your A, B and PVCs

By Cynthia Blayer
Linewaiters' Gazette, July 5, 2007

When plastic was first developed by Alexander Parkes, it warranted a showing at the 1862 Great International Exhibition in London. It’s hard to imagine the now ubiquitous material being rare enough to garner a spot in such a venue. For many years, we’ve all made use of this cheap and convenient material--although we’ve come to realize that the hidden cost to the environment and public health is quite high.

Environmental and Public Health Problems

Americans go through about a hundred billion plastic bags a year, not to mention the myriad other plastic products we all use. According to the EPA, the plastics industry is second only to the chemical industry in generating ozone layer-damaging toxic releases. Carcinogenic chemicals such as dioxin and benzene enter the environment during manufacturing; these materials pose additional threats, as they can leach from containers into food and beverages.

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