Forum: Best to avoid single-use plastic food containers

Singapore has a diverse range of food options and a strong takeaway or "dabao" culture. Single-use plastics are mostly used for takeaway meals here in Singapore.

The public is aware that single-use plastic is generally harmful to the environment, but many do not know that plastics can break off into even smaller plastics (that is, microplastics or nanoplastics).

More of these tiny plastics have been found to flake off under higher temperatures.

Academic research over the past decade has shown the possible health risks of microplastics and the chemicals they leach into food.

The potential health risks frequently cited include cancer, infertility, damage to the nervous system and impeding the neurological development of children.

Although our bodies can remove microplastics, a concern is that plastic pollution is worsening, and more microplastics will be making their way up the food chain into our bodies. Furthermore, single-use plastic takeaway containers are regularly used for hot food.

Research has already projected an accumulation of microplastics in human bodies.

In countries such as Australia, this issue has been highlighted, and the potential health risks have been used as an argument to legislate against the use of single-use plastic.

The public should err on the side of caution and use glass, platinum silicone or stainless steel containers instead of single-use plastics for takeaway food. Also, the public can submit feedback on the need to legislate against single-use plastic to the ongoing public consultation on Singapore's raised climate ambition.

Jared Chia Tih Hung

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