This Is Plastics: Rethink Plastic Packaging

Plastics 101

Rethink Plastic Packaging

Plastic packaging is a key component in reducing food waste.


Top 3 Takeaways

Some might think the plastic packaging of individually wrapped cucumbers in the produce section is wasteful. The truth is, this plastic wrapping can nearly triple the amount of time the vegetable stays fresh.

Plastic packaging exists for a purpose. Every year, almost 50% of all food in the world goes to waste. There are many reasons why food is wasted, but a crucial factor is the way it looks. Of the almost 50% of food wasted, about one-third is thrown away because of its appearance. People often discard food that’s still good simply because it doesn’t look the same as it did when purchased. Plastic can help prevent this food waste by making food look and taste fresher longer.

The food waste problem doesn’t end when food is thrown into the trash. In fact, that’s when it begins.

Chemical RecyclingChemical Recycling

Plastic packaging protects food during transport, and it can extend the shelf life of perishable food items, which means less food goes into landfills and less methane is produced. For example, a cucumber wrapped in plastic can stay fresh for up to 14 days, while an unwrapped cucumber stays fresh for about five days.

Plastics’ benefits span beyond the produce section:

  • Every year in the United States, people throw away up to 40% of the meat, poultry and seafood they purchase. Vacuum-sealed plastic packaging is key to preventing oxidation of meats. It can double the amount of time red meat stays fresh, taking shelf life from about three days to about six.
  • Plastics have been engineered to keep gases that cause spoilage out of foods. Packaging that includes an absorbent packet can triple or even quadruple the shelf life of a loaf of bread.

It’s important to remember that the production of food requires much more energy and carbon than the production of plastic packaging. Plus, the men and women in the plastics industry are constantly innovating to find lighter, more sustainable plastic packaging solutions—all vigorously tested. It simply makes sense to protect food with plastic—it conserves valuable resources and reduces the number of greenhouse gases emitted into the environment.

Reduce Food Waste

Beyond keeping food fresh, plastic packaging also helps reduce food-related disease, while allowing people who do not have refrigeration or proper food storage to safely get the nutrients they need. It’s especially helpful in keeping supplies safe and accessible in disaster relief situations.

There’s more—learn how plastic packaging is helping people to make food safer and more accessible to all, and put your knowledge to the test.

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