Scientists discover traces of hundreds of toxic chemicals in recycled plastics 


A recent study published by the University of Gothenburg has uncovered the high presence of toxic chemicals found in samples of recycled plastics collected from 13 countries. 

Scientists examined the recycled plastic pellets and found over 600 toxic chemical compounds, which includes pharmaceuticals and pesticides.


In total, 491 organic, toxic compounds were discovered by the scientists. They also found an additional 170 compounds spanning various classes including industrial chemicals and plastic additives. 

Published in the journal ‘Science’, researchers from the University of Gothenburg, IPEN, Aarhus University and the University of Exeter noted: “The hazardous chemicals present risks to recycling workers and consumers, as well as to the wider society and environment. Before recycling can contribute to tackling the plastics pollution crisis, the plastics industry must limit hazardous chemicals.” 

More than 13,000 chemicals are used in plastics with 25% classified as hazardous, according to the scientists. 

Professor Bethanie Carney Almroth from the University of Gothenburg added: “We need to phase out harmful chemicals. 

“Numerous studies show that hazardous chemicals can accumulate even in relatively closed-loop plastic recycling systems. We need to rapidly phase-out plastic chemicals that can cause harm to human health and the environment.”