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Lawsuit battle over resin used in plastic packaging

By Joe Whitworth , 04-Oct-2012
Last updated the 04-Oct-2012 at 17:17 GMT

A chemical company is locked in a battle over whether a resin used in its plastic packaging is free of chemicals with estrogenic activity (EA).

Eastman Chemical’s dispute with CertiChem and PlastiPure relates to whether or not the firm’s Tritan resins leach EA, a chemical which is said to mimic estrogen in the body and disrupt natural hormonal processes.

The civil action lawsuit centers on Eastman’s Tritan resins, developed in 2007, which are used in plastic consumer products including baby bottles, food containers, and water bottles.

Protect business

Eastman said it is bringing action against CertiChem, a testing company, and PlastiPure, a technical consulting and certification firm, to “protect its Tritan product and business from false or misleading representations.”

However, CertiChem said it has data that shows the resin leaches EA under real-world conditions, such as exposure to sunlight, and believe Eastman to be “greenwashing” to exploit a new market with the resin being BPA free.

Eastman said their tests, published in the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology ,show the resin doesn’t leach EA and the methods used by CertiChem are considered an initial screening test and not as a definitive test for EA.

CertiChem said their researchers and universities have shown that chemicals having EA, leach from many plastics under common-use conditions and the Eastman tests don’t incorporate sunlight.

Eastman filed legal action in January this year and the case is set for trial in July 2013.

Legal action prompted 

Lucian Boldea, vice president and general manager, speciality plastics, Eastman Chemical Company told FoodProductionDaily.com they are taking action as PlastiPure contacted Eastman’s customers with information relevant to the Tritan resin.

“What prompted Eastman to take legal action is PlastiPure contacting Eastman’s customers and sharing this false, misleading information.

“This caused unwarranted, unnecessary confusion about Tritan. At that point, we had no choice but to move forward to protect our business and our customers.”

When asked why they had approached Eastman’s customers, Mike Usey, CEO of PlastiPure said in the normal course of business it was appropriate for them to talk to as many prospective customers as possible.

“Eastman customers or prospects have not been singled out for communication but they won’t be avoided either.”

Test method

Eastman also questioned the experimental method, saying it is a screening test and not a conclusive final test for EA.

Boldea said: “They have acknowledged publically in their literature submitted to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that this test is intended as a screening test and is not a conclusive, final test for EA, yet they mislead the consumer by representing the test results as definitive.

“Second, PlastiPure and CertiChem used unrealistic stressors and questionable test procedures. For example, the so-called UV light used in their testing does not simulate exposure to real sunlight.”

Usey said the results of their MCF-7 and BG1 assays are at least as definitive as any other in vitro assays or in vivo assays on animals.

“We would not be allowed (and would not want) to put children on an island and inject them with BPA or other chemicals and track cancer rates over their lifetimes

“In lieu of such extreme “definitive tests”, other scientifically accepted testing methods such as CertiChem’s in vitro bioassays show that Tritan releases chemicals having estrogenic activity under real world conditions.”

In response to PlastiPure and CertiChem claims that Eastman was offered the chance to test Tritan at its lab, Boldea added: “Given our fundamental disagreement with the testing method, the sample preparation protocol and, most importantly, the motives of PlastiPure and CertiChem, such an invitation has never been given serious consideration.”

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