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Is Greenpan cookware really green?


Q. I was recently in the pots and pans section at Target and came across Greenpan, a supposedly eco-friendly nonstick pan. Is this for real, or just more eco hype? – Emily, NY

A. With so much green washing going on these days, we can’t blame you for being a little skeptical. Actually though, Greenpan’s eco-claims do seem legit. One of the reasons Greenpan is, well, green, is that it’s 100 percent PFOA- and PTFE-free. Traditional non-stick pans like Dupont’s Teflon-based nonstick cookware use PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid), which is a synthetic chemical that’s used to manufacture PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene). PFOA is infamous for its amazing ability to kill birds when its fumes are released into the air. It’s also been shown to cause health problems in people. This alarming news is probably why Dupont recently announced its plans to phase out PFOAs in its cookware by 2015.

Greenpan also claims (and this checks out, too, as far as we can tell) that production of Thermolon-coated cookware releases 60% fewer greenhouse gases than does production of traditional PTFE-based non-stick technology. That’s because it cures more quickly, and at lower temperatures.

Unfortunately, the eco wonder comes with a few caveats. For one, Thermolon’s ceramic non-stick formulation is nanotechnology-based. While manipulating particles at the nano scale is considered safe by lots of scientists, consumers should also know that some in the scientific community question nanotech’s safety. Another sticky issue is that silicone—one of the ingredients in Thermolon’s ceramic non-stick coating (full list of ingredients: oxygen, silicone, carbon, aluminum and titanium)—can be a health issue when mixed with additives. Plus, it’s been known to melt at not so hot temperatures.

If these concerns keep you up at night, go with more tried and true eco friendly options like glass or cast iron cookware. The most important detail to remember (environmentally-speaking) is that if you don’t need cookware, don’t buy it just because some new product has come out. After all, using what you’ve got is usually the most eco way to go.

– Jessica A. Knoblauch

Eco-inquiries, conundrums, snafus? Write to askplenty@plentymag.com.


Comments

Thanks for the 'heads-up' here, as I was honestly considering buying at least one piece from HSN to see how it actually worked.
So, via your 'suggestion', I will most certainly stick to my "Pyrex" and "Cast-Iron" products. It's kind of sad that 'more' people don't know about what you've mentioned here, but will hopefully do some research once they've gotten their products.

Interesting information, I looked up greenpan because I saw that Crate and Barrel was selling it. I just purchased Green Pro Cookware, by Michael Chiarello, sold on Napa Style's website. It uses Sandflow Nonstick Interior. What do you know about this product?
Thanks.
Dana, MA

Re: the safety of green pan, particularly with regards to the nanotechnology mentioned above, I wrote to the company and received the following response:

"Thanks for your inquiry and interest in Thermolon.

The use of the term 'nanotechnology' during the launch of Thermolon was a result of a rather over-enthusiastic copy writer! Apparently, it was just thrown in because it sounded high tech...

'Nano' means very small particles - in fact of course, everything is made of very small particles. Thermolon is created using sol-gel technology, a process known since the 1800's. The sol-gel process is a versatile solution process for making ceramic and glass materials. In general, the sol-gel process involves the transition of a system from a liquid "sol" into a solid "gel" phase. Applying the sol-gel process, it is possible to fabricate ceramic or glass materials in a wide variety of forms.

I have attached a file - The Composition of Thermolon - explaining how Thermolon is created. Our Scientists claim it is simple enough for anyone to understand...I must admit I struggle!

I do know, however, that it is safe. Basically, it is made of sand and has been thoroughly tested by independent Labs in the US, UK, Germany etc - even by the Swiss Government. All certify it to be completely free of toxins or anything harmful to man, beast or the environment.

I hope this puts your concerns to rest and that you can enjoy our products, safe in the knowledge that you and your family are using something designed to protect the futures of us all."