PET Plastic Report 2022

Our partners at Defend Our Health tested 20 popular beverages packaged in plastic bottles and found antimony, a cancer-causing plastic chemical, in every bottle. 

40% of beverages tested, including Pepsico and Coca-Cola brands, had antimony levels higher than California’s public health goal for drinking water.

Antimony, known to be toxic to the liver and heart, is used to speed up the final reaction in the process of making PET (#1) plastic. This same polymer is the common "polyester" used in apparel and other textiles. This means the problem doesn’t end with plastic bottles. Antimony is also found in food packaging and other packaging made from PET, as well as clothing, stuffed animals, and other polyester items.

Antimony is just one reason why plastic and plastic pollution is so harmful. Petrochemical plastics are unsafe, unjust, and unsustainable across their entire lifecycle. The report finds that:

  • Hundreds of chemicals used to make these plastics pose hidden health hazards;
  • Young children and people of color face the greatest harm from chemicals in plastic;
  • More than 99% of PET and polyester is made from non-renewable fossil gas and oil.

TAKE ACTION to get major brands to end their use of toxic plastics.  

Read the report: “Problem Plastic: How Polyester and PET Plastic Can be Unsafe, Unjust, and Sustainable Materials.”

The Ecology Center supported this research project by testing 14 of the 20 plastic PET beverage bottles using X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF). The plastic from 11 bottles had concentrations of antimony in the range of 216 to 321 parts per million (ppm), indicating antimony was used as a catalyst during PET production. Three bottles tested had undetectable concentrations of antimony. These test results are included the report and are displayed in the table below.

 

Drink Brand Owner Antimony (ppm)
7up Keurig Dr Pepper nd
Aquafina PepsiCo 289
Dasani Coca Cola 265
Diet Coke Coca Cola 238
Diet Dr. Pepper Keurig Dr Pepper 296
Diet Pepsi PepsiCo 310
Dr. Pepper Keurig Dr Pepper 300
Honest Tea half tea half lemonade Coca Cola 255
Motts Apple Juice Keurig Dr Pepper 264
Mountain Dew PepsiCo nd
Ocean Spray 100% Juice Ocean Spray 309
Powerade Fruit Punch Coca Cola 260
Simply Lemonade Coca Cola nd
Snapple Peach tea Keurig Dr Pepper 216
Tropicana Orange PepsiCo 229
V8 Campbell's 321

Antimony was measured in the plastic bottles using X-ray fluorescence spectrometry (XRF) at the Ecology Center's Healthy Stuff Lab. XRF was not used to test the beverages. Beverage testing results can be found in the linked report.

Uncertainty in the XRF measurements of antimony (Sb) ranged from +/- 2.7-14.7 ppm with an average uncertainty of 9.1 ppm.