The commercial success of plastics as a packaging product is due to a combination of flexibility, strength, lightness, stability, impermeability and ease of sterilisation. These features make plastics an ideal packaging material for all sorts of commercial and industrial users in both flexible and rigid formats.
Plastics food packaging, for instance, does not affect the taste and quality of the foodstuff. In fact, the barrier properties of plastics ensure that food keeps its natural taste while protecting it from external contamination. Moreover, its unparalleled versatility is demonstrated in a multitude of applications such as packaging films for fresh meats, fruit and vegetables, bottles for beverages, edible oils and sauces, and pots tubs and trays for yoghurt, margarine ice cream and sliced cooked meats.
The benefits of plastic packaging
The following are just some of the benefits offered by plastics packaging:
The lightest packaging material
While over 50% of all European goods are packaged in plastics, they account only for 17% of the total packaging weight on the market. Furthermore, this weight has been reduced by 28% over the past 10 years! Lightweight packaging means lighter loads and fewer lorries needed to ship the same amount of products, helping to reduce transportation energy, decrease emissions and lower shipping costs. It also helps reduce the amount of waste generated.
Food conservation and preservation
Plastics packaging hygienically protects and preserves perishable food for longer. It helps reduce waste and the use of preservatives while maintaining the taste and nutritional value of food.
Convenient and innovative
Nowadays people want packaging with clear identification and labelling which is easy to open and use. Plastics packaging evolves to provide exactly that. In the near future, for instance, it will integrate printable RFID (Radio-frequency identification) chips based on conductive polymers, providing precious information on the quality and status of products.
Safe and hygienic
Plastic packaging protects against contamination of foods by germs and malodours along the chain from manufacture, distribution, storage to display. Tamper-proof closures provide additional protection and security, while transparent packaging allows people to look at food without having to touch it, cutting down on bruising, contamination with pathogens and other damage.
In medical applications plastics maintain the safety and integrity of sterile goods
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