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Fear of Plastic Dishware Grips Korea

Posted September. 23, 2006 03:55,   


A few days ago, Kim Yeong-ja (32, Seoul) threw out all kinds of her plastic dishware in her refrigerator.

Instead, she took out her old china she bought nearly four years ago when she got married. She is considering purchasing glassware or additional sets of china.

Kim is not alone in throwing out or at least avoiding using plastic ware after a TV program aired about harmful endocrine disruptors found in plastic products. Housewives’ reluctance to use plastic has a substantially negative impact on the sales of plastic products.

Woori Home Shopping, a TV home shopping company, did not sell plastic ware for two consecutive weeks. Plastic ware had been one of the most popular product categories at Woori.

Shrinking sales have delivered a direct hit to manufactures of plastic ware.

An employee of a plastic ware manufacturer fretted over the falling sales, saying, “The sales already have dropped nearly five percent.” Those in the plastic industry are concerned that a continuing sales fall, combined with their poor ability to finance their businesses, would put small plastic dishware producers at risk of going bankrupt.

An industry insider said, “Most of the plastic containers domestically produced have nothing to do with the endocrine disruptors, reported as harmful on TV. And they have received certifications from Korean and international certification organizations. I think consumers are oversensitive to TV reports.”

Roh Yeong-mahn, professor of Industrial Medicine at Hanyang University, remarked, “Existing technologies are not enough to prove whether plastic contains detrimental endocrine disruptors. It is hard to reach a definite conclusion on the harmfulness of plastic.”

As opposed to the usual one hour, GS Home Shopping sold all of its prepared 3,500 sets of glassware in just 40 minutes on September 18.