Sunday, 17 December 2017

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Polymers in Food Packaging

Food packaging plays an important role in the food Industry. Packaging preserves food and protects it from distribution hazards. Polymers serve as a key role in this process. Their mechanical strength, cost efficiency, and ease of manufacturing make polymers a good packaging product. However, past reviews have recently surfaced many issues with the packaging polymers currently used in the industry. These issues can lead to the leaching of toxic chemicals, the environmental impact on packaging polymers, and economic impact of the industry.

According to a recent study, the packaging industry contributes significantly to the economy. The United States has a large $561 billion food packaging industry. Of this money, almost 15% is spent on the food packaging itself. Food packaging not only helps in transporting food in the safest environment by protecting it from harmful bacteria, contamination, and degradation.

Some of the most common plastics used by the food packaging industry are:

  1. 1. Polyethylene terephthalate (PET)
  2. 2. High-density polyethylene (HDPE)
  3. 3. Polyvinyl chloride (PVC)
  4. 4. Low-density polyethylene (LDPE)
  5. 5. Polypropylene (PP)
  6. 6. Polystyrene (PS)

 

 

The plastic industry is the one of the largest industries in United States, contributing billions of dollars toward the economy each year. Each food packaging plastic is used in a differently to best suit their unique properties. For example, PET has a good tensile strength and good tensile properties. However, it melts easily when exposed to the heat. Therefore, it is used in cold beverage packaging. HDPE is used in packing products like milk beverages, because it is inexpensive to manufacture. More recently, biodegradable polymers have been used in the food industry in an attempt to lessen the environmental impact.

References

https://www.wpi.edu/Pubs/E-project/Available/E-project-050610124822/unrestricted/Polymers_for_Innovative _Food_Packaging.pdf

http://materialsworld.utep.edu/Modules/FoodPackaging/Food%20Packaging%20intro%20cont/Polymers%20in%20Packaging/polymers%20in%20packaging.htm

http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/legislation/guide-ld/polymers_tc-polymere_tm-eng.php

http://modernpolymers.com/packaging-materials

http://www.plasticpackagingfacts.org/plastic-packaging

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