Excerpts from "Lead in Reusable Bags"
Rick Brenner from Prime Line and Christopher Duffy from Bag Makers provided a lot of great insight and information. Due to time and space, there were some things I wasn't able to touch on in the article that could be of interest to you. Below, I've reprinted some of the questions and answers that didn't make it into the final article.
Promo Marketing: Can you explain the history leading up to this report?
Rick Brenner: Around 11/11-14/2010 a newspaper in Florida, The Tampa Tribune, published articles stating that they had commissioned tests of certain reusable grocery bags from the Winn-Dixie and Publix grocery store chains and found "elevated levels of lead in material of some bags."
The story was picked up by seemingly every news outlet in the country—if not the world—and spread very quickly. It even prompted the democratic U.S. Senator from New York, Charles Schumer, to call for a federal investigation involving CPSC, FDA, EPA among others. All of this publicity, as with the BPA controversy promulgated on the Today Show in 2008, caused the story to take on a life of its own replete with widespread misinformation and misunderstanding.
PM: How can lead enter into these bags?
RB: These bags are made of polypropylene. According to Dee Fenton, one of the executive directors of QCA, recycled plastics are ground up and shredded in giant machines. Over time the teeth and blades wear down and the residue from the teeth and blades ends up in the plastic. Shredded plastic is called “regrind” and Dee notes that regrind generally tests higher for lead and other heavy metals. Another source of lead in recycled plastic can be any lead that happens to be in the material that is being recycled. In addition, every component of a bag and its decoration is a potential entry point for lead. Some nonwoven bags are laminated so the laminate can contain lead. The thread, binding material, grommets, cords, zippers and any other components can contain lead. So can the dye and the inks and glues used in the decoration or appliqués.