Do you often drink from a plastic bottle or plastic coffee cup? Then you ingest hundreds of thousands of tiny particles of plastic per bottle of water without you know it. This has been revealed by a recent study conducted by scientists from Columbia University in New York.


What are Microplastic and Nanoplastic Particles, and where are they found?

Much of the single-use disposable items end up as litter in our environment, where they break down very slowly into minuscule particles. These plastic pieces can end up in animals through the sea, making them ill. Small pieces of plastic can also enter the human body through the consumption of fish and shellfish. Microplastics and nanoplastics are everywhere. They have been discovered in the environment in clouds, in the ocean, and even in human lung tissue, blood, and placentas. You can be exposed to them when you eat, drink, and even when you breathe.


plastic water bottle with overlaid magnification of microplastics found in the water

Microplastics in a plastic water bottle, magnified (Pexels / Dantor / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0).


New research shows that newly purchased plastic bottles also contain nanoplastics, which are even smaller than microplastics. Due to their size, they behave differently; they can penetrate our organs and cells. While it has long been known that there are microplastics floating in disposable water bottles, a specific number was not known until now. The count is approximately 240,000 particles per Liter, which is 10 to 100 times higher than originally thought!


What Types of Plastic Have Been Found in Plastic Bottles?

Only 10 percent of the plastic particles in a water bottle are microplastics, the remaining 90 percent are nanoplastics. Previously, these tiny particles were difficult to examine, but better techniques are now available. Nanoparticles of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) were discovered, which is not surprising since most bottles are made from this material. Additionally, polyamides, such as nylon found in water filters and even plexiglass were detected.


Infographic illustrating where the microplastics we eat, drink and breathe come from.

Infographic illustrating where the microplastics we eat, drink and breathe come from.


How Dangerous are Micro- and Nano-Plastics for our Health?

We are exposed to micro and nanoplastics in two ways: through consumption and inhalation. Regarding the ingestion of microplastics through food, it is not always clear whether it is due to the plastic being present in the food itself or if the food is 'contaminated' by the packaging around it. As mentioned earlier, the exact implications for your health are not yet known.

Nevertheless, findings like these are not very hopeful, and insights can be derived from the effects on animals. Their development and hormone levels can be disrupted by microplastics, and the immune system may also be affected. Plastic particles can carry viruses and bacteria. Normally, these cannot enter cells, but they can do so through such minuscule plastic particles.


Infographics listing possible health effects of daily exposureto endocrine-disrupting substances in plastic, on men, women, and children

Overview of potential health effects of our daily contact with harmful substances in plastic.


What are Potential Health Effects of our Daily Contact with Harmful Substances in Plastic?

  • Microplastics increase the risk of inflammatory reactions in our intestines. Various sizes of microplastics can penetrate the intestinal tissue and influence the 'barrier integrity' of human tissue, paving the way for bacteria that cause inflammatory reactions in that tissue.
  • Micro- and nano plastics can penetrate the barrier that protects our brain. In the short term, they do not cause significant damage, although they do have an impact on the functioning of important enzymes—proteins that serve as assistants in various biochemical processes. Subsequent research focuses on the effects of prolonged exposure.
  • Plastic chemicals may contribute to overweight and obesity. A recent study shows that one-third of the chemicals in plastic packaging, such as yogurt pots and drink bottles, cause the development and growth of fat cells.


What Measures Are Taken to Restrict Microplastics?

Since July 3, 2021, in Europe, consumers can no longer buy single-use plastic plates, cutlery, stirrers, straws, and cotton swabs. Since July 1, 2023, disposable cups and containers containing plastic can't be given away for free – the customer has to pay. This applies, for example, if you buy coffee at the train station, take fries from the snack bar, purchase a pre-packaged salad in the supermarket, or get a pre-packaged sandwich at the gas station.

Even if you have food delivered, you will pay extra for disposable cups and containers with plastic. Further, as of January 1st, 2024, disposable cups are no longer allowed at work. In many workplaces, employees are already encouraged to bring their own reusable cups.


Overview of reusable food & drink containers and cutlery from eKodoKi, in a checkerboard pattern.

Overview of reusable food & drink containers and cutlery from eKodoKi.


What is the Best Alternative to Plastic Bottles, Coffee Cups, and Straws?

eKodoKi has been advising since its launch to adopt an anti-plastic diet and use only reusable alternatives for lunchboxes, cutlery, straws, water bottles, tea making bottles, mugs, and cups – made of quality materials such as stainless steel, ceramic, bamboo or glass – to bring to work, sports events, and other activities outside of home.


eKodoKi’s stylish and minimalist THERMOS stainless steel bottles also have additional practical functions. Chilled drinks stay cool for up to 18 hours, and hot drinks are guaranteed to stay warm for 6 hours; this is because these bottles are double-walled. Moreover, they are very light and available in various sizes, and come in different finishes – from sporty red to stylish black, cool white, and brushed steel.