Your Cart is Empty

June 09, 2024 5 min read

As someone deeply passionate about toxin-free and sustainable living, I've always tried to make eco-conscious choices.That's why, like many of you,  I thought recycled plastic products  were a great option. 

As most of you know, I am a mad researcher, so when I saw an article years ago about recycled plastic containing more chemicals than plastic, I started to delve deeper.  To rip the bandage, recycling plastic can increase its toxicity, turning recycled plastic items (like plates and food containers) hazardous to our health and the planet's well-being. It's a hard pill to swallow, but this blog is to arm you with information so you feel empowered in  the choices you make. It also explains why - at Go For Zero - we don't sell recycled plastic plates, cutlery, lunch boxes  etc. Every product goes through strict criteria and  is researched to be safe for you and our Big Mama. Let's dive into the problem with recycled plastic and what we can do.

The Global Recycling Crisis

Let's start with some statistics: less than 9% of plastic waste is recycled globally every year. The remaining 91% gets incinerated, landfilled or released directly into the environment as microplastics and pollutants.  

But even the  small fraction that does make it to recycling faces a flawed, toxic system. Studies show plastic degrades in quality each time it's recycled mechanically. It also accumulates more and more hazardous substances through the process, rendering it increasingly unsuitable for reuse over multiple cycles (or touching our food). 

As University of Gothenburg Professor Bethanie Carney Almroth bluntly states, "There are no plastics that can be deemed safe or circular, even in relatively closed-loop recycling systems."

The truth is, plastic  was never designed to be recycled.

Toxins In (Recycled) Plastic 

Did you know that plastic  is made of more than 13,000 chemicals? I know, right! While the majority of these chemicals are still not researched, 3200 have  been identified as a major concern due to their high toxicity and potential to be released from the plastic, including phthalates, bisphenols, PFAS, flame retardants, etc.

So, how is recycled plastic more toxic? Research points to three main "poisonous pathways": 

  1. The heating involved in recycling can create new toxic compounds like benzene and brominated dioxins.
  2. Plastic waste absorbs contaminants like pesticides and solvents before being recycled.
  3. Virgin plastic contains toxic additives like flame retardants that transfer into recycled products. 

The result? Recycled plastic products contain carcinogenic substances, heavy metals, endocrine disruptors, and other hazardous chemicals. For these reasons - at Go For Zero - we never had a love affair with recycled plastic and instead always focused on eliminating plastic at the source.

The PFAS Problem 

It's important to note that recycled plastics have also  been linked to containing per- andpolyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) - an additional class of toxic "forever chemicals."  PFAS are used in some plastics to make them grease, stain and water-resistant, but they don't break down easily and can accumulate in the environment and human body over time.  Exposure has  been associated with health issues like cancer, liver damage, and decreased fertility.  

Why We Don't Sell Recycled Plastic Plates & Containers at Go For Zero

When I research a product, I ask myself if I would use it or let my kids use it. And when the answer is "no", you won't find it at Go For Zero. With the health and environmental risks laid bare, it should  come as no surprise that I have consciously decided to avoid selling recycled plastic plates, lunch boxes, and drink bottles. It can mean we have less choice, but it is the better choice.

While many stores promote and sell recycled plastic products as an environmentally conscious choice, mounting scientific evidence shows they expose people and the planet to a litany of toxic dangers, just like virgin plastic. 

We believe true sustainability means prioritising human and ecological health above all else. 

Our Commitment To You and The Planet

We share this information not to alarm you but rather to arm you with the facts and empower you to make kinder choices - for you and the planet. The truth about recycled plastic may be disheartening, but we remain committed to empowering our community with facts and safe, ethical solutions aligned with our mission.

We advocate for radical transparency about the toxic chemicals used throughout the  entire plastics lifecycle, and embracing a future with less plastic is crucial for protecting human and ecological health.

While policy changes are paramount, below are some steps we all can take today to reduce our plastic footprint:

  • Ask questions: Your voice matters, and  your feedback is very important to companies, so never hesitate to ask questions about packaging, refills, material testing, etc. Did you know we hold certificates for all our Go For Zero branded products?
  • Show your support: It is hard for companies to do the right thing, so suppor brands offering safe, sustainable alternatives.
  • Buy once, buy well: Invest in quality reusable containers made from glass, stainless steel, pottery, and LFGB certified silicone. Check your pantry too; glass jars make great cups.
  • BYO: Don't forget to bring your own.The goal is to cut out all single-use.
  • Sign petitions: Don't skip that "petitions email" asking for plastic bans or regulations of the plastics industry. Only when we all sign these, we can make an impact.

Thanks fror being here, and for joining us in demanding a world with fewer single-use and (recycled) plastics. Armed with knowledge, we can make a difference - together.

With lots of love and fire in our bellies,

Ellie and the Go For Zero team x


  1. Greenpeace Report (2023). Forever Toxic: The Science of Health Threats from Plastic Recycling.https://www.greenpeace.org/usa/reports/forever-toxic/
  2. Gayle, D. (2023).Recycled PlasticMore Toxic,No Fix for Pollution. The Guardian.https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2023/may/24/recycled-plastic-more-toxic-no-fix-pollution-greenpeace-warns 
  3. Perkins, T. (2023). Recycled and Reused Food Plastics are 'Vectors' for Toxins. The Guardian.https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2023/may/27/recycled-reused-food-plastic-toxins-study 
  4. Carney Almroth, B. (2023). Hundreds of Toxic Chemicals Found in Recycled Plastics. University of Gothenburg Research.https://www.gu.se/en/news/hundreds-of-toxic-chemicals-in-recycled-plastics 
  5. Carney Almroth, B. & Carmona Martinez, E. (2024). Dangerous Chemicals Found in Recycled Plastics. The Conversation.https://theconversation.com/dangerous-chemicals-found-in-recycled-plastics-making-them-unsafe-for-use-experts-explain-the-hazards-220498 
  6. Nylanden, N. (2023). The Toxic Truth About Plastic Recycling. Sulapac Blog.https://www.sulapac.com/blog/truth-about-plastic-recycling/ 
  7. Greenpeace International. (2023). New Report Calls Out Toxic Hazards of Recycled Plastic. Press Release.https://www.greenpeace.org/aotearoa/press-release/new-report-calls-out-toxic-hazards-of-recycled-plastic-as-global-plastics-treaty-negotiations-resume/ 
  8. Hahn, J. (2023). Recycled Plastics Often Contain More Toxic Chemicals, Says Greenpeace. Dezeen.https://www.dezeen.com/2023/05/26/recycled-plastics-greenpeace-report/ 
  9. University of Gothenburg. (2023). Scientists Found Hundreds of Toxic Chemicals in Recycled Plastics. ScienceDaily.https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2023/11/231110112511.htm 
  10. EPA (2023). Basic Information on PFAS.https://www.epa.gov/pfas/basic-information-pfas 
  11. Greenpeace Report (2024). New Greenpeace Report Calls Out Toxic Hazards of Recycled Plastic as Global Plastics Treaty Negotiations Resume in Paris.https://www.greenpeace.org/usa/news/new-greenpeace-report-calls-out-toxic-hazards-of-recycled-plastic-as-global-plastics-treaty-negotiations-resume-in-paris/
  12. United Nations Environment Programme (2023). Chemicals In Plastic - A Technical Report.https://www.unep.org/resources/report/chemicals-plastics-technical-report

Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.