Is Tritan Plastic Safe For Us And The Planet?

Have you ever heard of Tritan plastic before? We can’t completely avoid plastic, no matter how much we want to live a plastic-free eco-lifestyle! So when I recently heard about this new BPA-free plastic on the market, I had to learn more.

Today, I am here to share what I have found with you and answer some of the most common questions I have come across… What is Tritan plastic? What does BPA-free even mean? Can Tritan plastic go in the dishwasher or microwave? And perhaps most importantly, is Tritan plastic safe for my family and the environment? 

What is Tritan plastic?

Tritan plastic is still pretty new and has only been out on the market for about two decades now. It was first created by Eastman Chemical Company in 2002 and is now used by brands like Vitamix and Nalgene as a replacement for traditional plastic products like water bottles and blenders. 

When thinking about types of plastic, Tritan plastic is a hard, copolyester plastic that is free of bisphenols (like BPA or BPS) and other estrogen-mimicking chemicals. I do want to make a point early on in this article that while Tritan plastic is 100% BPA-free, this doesn’t necessarily mean it's non-toxic… and that leads us to our next question. 

Is Tritan plastic safe?

So, does BPA-free mean safe? That is the million-dollar question! But before we answer this, we need to understand a few key terms being used in reference to Tritan plastic

Bisphenols

Bisphenols are chemicals (like BPA, BPS, and BPF) that are added to plastic during the production process to make it harder and a sturdy product. According to Eastman, Bisphenol S (BPS) is a chemical compound used in specific plastics and coatings while Bisphenol A (BPA) is most often used to prevent deterioration of the metal surface in canned foods.

While BPA is a known endocrine disruptor, research around BPS and BPF is still disputed and it’s too early to know if these two also fall into that category as well. However, I would rather be safe than sorry and avoid plastic containing any Bisphenols!

Non-Toxic

What does non-toxic mean? In reference to plastic, non-toxic means that the product doesn’t contain chemicals known to be toxic to human health. While this definition is generally accepted by the FDA, some regulatory bodies dive a little deeper when defining the toxicity of a product. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), a substance is “toxic” if it can cause harm when ingested, inhaled, or absorbed (through the skin). 

Unfortunately, the term “non-toxic” is oftentimes used in greenwashing since there isn’t really any regulation out there around the use of the word. The Consumer Product Safety Commission does not regulate or enforce the use of the term…annoying right?

Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals

Also known as EDCs, endocrine-disrupting chemicals affect male/female hormone function. This concept is often used interchangeably with estrogenic/androgenic activity which refers to the two types of hormones EDCs most commonly affected. Exposure to EDCs can lead to some serious health problems like infertility and even cancer.

And to all my mothers-to-be out there, I would also be extra cautious as exposure to EDCs is especially harmful to fetuses and young children. Because of these health risks, consumers have been demanding safer plastic options free from EDCs, and alas… Tritan plastic was born.

Trays with raw vegetables for freezing. — PhotoPin

So, is Tritan plastic safe?

Technically, yes. 

The FDA, Health Canada, and other regulatory agencies have all approved Eastman Tritan plastic for “food contact applications”. According to Eastman themselves, they have stated that Tritant “has been rigorously tested by third-party labs to ensure its safety”. 

However, because Tritan plastic is so new compared to other materials on the market, we aren’t 100% sure that it’s free of other endocrine disruptors (some research even supports that it might not be). There has also been evidence to suggest that some of the research behind Tritan plastic has been biased and either backed by Eastman or companies that are in direct competition with them. It’s all a bit shifty to me and as I mentioned before, we need to see more research on Tritan plastic’s influence on human health. 

This is all to say, I would still proceed with caution… 

I think another question we should really be asking here is, safe for who? While made without any BPA, BPS, or other bisphenols, we haven’t taken into account the environmental impact of producing plastic. 

Plastic is a product derived from fossil fuels, a known contributor to climate change. It all starts with oil in the ground, which is extracted and transported to shore. The crude oil is then processed in a refinery where the oil is broken down and its components are separated and can then be turned into plastic polymers - this takes a huge amount of water and energy!

To make matters even worse, only 9% of all plastic waste ever created has been recycled!  In the case of Tritan plastic, its “resin identification code” (the number in the triangle on plastic products) is 7. This is also the kind of plastic that gets recycled the LEAST. FYI, I highly recommend learning about how you can recycle some old food storage containers

The bottom line is plastic still sucks, BPA-free or not!

What kinds of products are made from Tritan plastic?

You have probably seen or used a Tritan plastic product and didn’t even know it! Some examples of where you can find it include:

  • Food storage containers like Tupperware, Thermos, or Rubbermaid
  • Water filters like Aquatru
  • Blenders like Ninja or Vitamix
  • Water bottles like Nalgene
  • Medical devices like IV components and tubing (for medical grade Eastman Tritan™)

What are the pros and cons of Tritan plastic?

pros

  • Free of BPA, BPS, or other bisphenols
  • Tritan is likely safer than other kinds of plastic on the market
  • Tritan plastic is affordable, transparent, lightweight, and durable

cons

  • Tritan plastic might still contain other EDCs and potentially harmful chemicals
  • Exposure to EDCs has detrimental impacts on your health
  • There is a lack of complete, unbiased information on Tritan plastics

Common questions about Tritan plastic:

Getting the facts about plastic down can be tough, so let’s look at some of the more common questions out there about Tritan plastic!

Can you put  Tritan plastic in the microwave? 

Eastman has stated their products are microwave safe, but we all know exposing plastic to heat (like putting your food in the microwave) can increase the risk of chemical leachings into your food. Tritan plastic might have fewer chemicals than conventional plastic but we know it's probably not 100% chemical free. And while leaching occurs naturally with plastic, the heat definitely speeds up this process. I couldn’t advise my readers to put ANY PLASTIC in the microwave until the research behind Tritan plastic is more thorough.

Can you put Tritan plastic in the dishwasher? 

Once again, Eastman has said their products are also dishwasher safe. Eastman actually even went as far to say on their website that Tritan products should last “hundreds of dishwasher cycles”. 

With all this being said, I still sometimes hand wash my plastic containers and other products just to be safe. If you do choose to hand wash your plastic, be mindful that abrasion can also promote chemical leaching… So be gentle! And when possible, try to use upcycled glass jars, silicone, stainless steel, or wood when cooking and storing food. And if you’re wondering, well is silicone safe? The answer is yes! According to the FDA, silicon is non-toxic and contains no chemicals that could possibly leach into your food as Tritan plastic could. 

How does Tritan plastic differ from glass? 

The glass vs. plastic argument has been around for ages now. Some people opt for plastic because of its durability while still being a transparent product (no one wants a broken water bottle after all). But if this is something you are worried about, I would suggest making a more sustainable swap like buying a metal plastic-free water bottle.

Is Tritan plastic safe to drink from? 

Eastman has stated their products are safe to drink from. But once again, I would keep in mind what we have talked about today and instead choose a more sustainable option that is also free of EDCs… like bioplastics! 

I have always wondered, is bioplastic better than plastic? I am here to tell you it really is. The biopolymers that make up bioplastics are made from organic biomass and can be safely composted (bonus, bioplastics are also free of BPA or bisphenol A!!). But more on that another time!

A final word on Tritan plastic

Sometimes plastic just can't be avoided no matter how eco-friendly we try to be. So knowing what goes into the products we are exposed to, and how that might impact our health (or the health of our loved ones) is so so important.

Yes, Tritan plastic is safer than many other forms of plastic, but there are other options out there that make for more sustainable food packaging. If you found this post helpful, please help someone by sharing this article – Sharing is caring 🙂!

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