The Chemical Footprint of a Plastic Bottle

June 8, 2023
1:00 pm US Eastern Time

The global beverage industry buys more than 500 billion plastic bottles every year to package its products. A recent report documents the harmful impacts of plastic bottles on human health, environmental justice, and climate change.

Hidden Hazards: The Chemical Footprint of a Plastic Bottle explores the many health harms of plastics production, the potential health effects of consuming beverages in plastic bottles, and dangers to workers and communities from recycling and disposal.

Report co-author Mike Belliveau, Defend Our Health's Executive Director, presented highlights including evidence that the polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic used in beverage containers pollutes air, water, and food with cancer-causing chemicals. Port Arthur Community Action Network's Executive Director John Beard Jr. shared his experience of exposures to chemicals used to produce PET plastic beverage bottles. Both speakers discussed findings that exposures to these chemicals falls disproportionately on communities of color and low-income people, largely in the Gulf Coast and Southeast US.

Based on their findings, the authors of Hidden Hazards urge all beverage companies to take action to achieve zero discharge of cancer-causing chemicals along the PET supply chain, and end the use of virgin fossil-based PET plastic by 2040 to help solve the climate crisis.

Featured Speakers

John Beard, Jr. is the founder and Executive Director of the Port Arthur Community Action Network (“PA-CAN”), serving the Port Arthur/Southeast Texas area as a community advocate, focusing on  environmental issues and community development. He has worked 38 years in the petrochemical industry, with experience in process operations, health, safety and environmental issues, and emergency management. He has over thirty two years of public service as an elected official; nine as city councilman and  mayor pro-tem, with current and previous service on numerous boards and commissions with the City of Port Arthur. Beard studied Economics and Political Science at Lamar University.

Mike Belliveau headshotMike Belliveau, Executive Director of Defend Our Health, has advanced public health, environmental justice, and clean production for 40 years. He’s led chemical policy reform campaigns that set national precedents, helped major corporations to phase out toxic chemicals and plastics, and launched a trade association to create good jobs and slow climate change through renewable materials. Belliveau founded Defend Our Health (formerly Environmental Health Strategy Center) in 2002, and previously served as Executive Director of Communities for a Better Environment. He studied Environmental Science at MIT.