Packaging

Plastics are used to package many different forms and shapes of products. Their performance requirements are very diversified ranging from relatively no strength to extremely high strength, flexible to rigid, non-permeable to permeable (in many different environments), and so on. They require design performance requirements that include many reviewed in this book. There is extensive literature on the subject of packaging and all their ramifications.

Packaging industry and its technology is the major outlet for plastics where it consumes about 30wt% of all plastics (yearly sales above $40 billion) with building and construction in second place consuming about 20wt%. If plastic packaging were not used, the amount of packaging contents (food, soaps, etc.) discarded from USA households would more than double. Plastics are the most efficient packaging materials due to their higher product-to-package ratio as compared to other materials. One ounce of plastic packaging can hold about 34 ounces of product. A comparison of product delivered per ounce of packaging material shows 34.0 plastics, 21.7 aluminum, 6.9 paper, 5.6 steel, and 1.8 glass.

When packaging problems are tough, plastics often are the answer and sometimes the only answer. They can perform tasks no other materials can and provide consumers with products and services no other materials can provide. As an example plastics have extended the life of vegetables after they are packaged.

If plastic packaging were not used, the amount of packaging contents (food, etc.) discarded from USA households would more than double. Plastics are the most efficient packaging materials due to their higher product-to-package ratio as compared to other materials. One ounce of plastic packaging can hold about 34 ounces of product. A comparison of product delivered per ounce of packaging material shows 34.0 plastics, 21.7 aluminum, 6.9 paper, 5.6 steel, and 1.8 glass.

Different designs and processing techniques are used to produce many different packaging products. These different products show how innovative designs have created different products based on plastic behaviors and they're processing capabilities. Most of these products are extruded film and sheet that are usually thermoformed. Other processes are used with injection molding and blow molding being the other principal types used.

The largest market at 35% of the total is for carded blister packs. The second major product is window packaging at 24%. The others are clamshell packaging at 20%, skin packaging at 18%, and others at 3%. The following information provides examples of packaging products that meet different performance requirements that relates to the capability of the plastic used: aseptic in food processing; bag-in-box refers to a sealed, sprouted plastic film bag inside a molded rigid container; beverage can with aluminum cans dominating the USA market for soft drink containers with about 70% of the market, PET plastic and glass compete for second place-note that most aluminum cans have an inside coating, usually epoxy, to protect its contents from the aluminum; beverage container with carbonated soft drinks being the largest market at about 50% followed by beer at about 25%, fruit juices and drinks, and milk; beer bottle potential in bioriented stretched plastic bottles in USA is on the horizon using coinjection or coextruded plastics such as PET plastic and/or PEN plastic using various barrier plastics or systems; biological substance that are classified as hazardous requiring specialty packaging where plastics play an important role to meet strict requirements; blister also called blister carded packaging; bubble pack is plastic cushioning material used in packaging; contour packaging is also called skin packaging; dual-ovenable tray are used for frozen foods; electronic packaging with plastic ease of processing and low cost has given them a wide application in solving problems in electronic packaging; film breathable identified as controlled-atmospheric packaging (cap); food packaging with plastics provides the most efficient packaging materials due to their higher product-to-package ratio as compared to other materials; food oxygen scavenger impregnated plastics with chemically reactive additives that absorb oxygen, ethyl, and other agents of spoilage inside the package once it has been sealed; grocery bag; hot fill package injection & blow molded botdes, thermoformed containers, etc.; modified atmosphere packaging (mat) is a packaging method that uses special mixtures of gases (carbon dioxide, nitrogen, oxygen, or their combinations; hermetically sealed mat extends the shelf life of red meat, skinless turkey breast, chicken, half-baked bread, pizza's crust, bagels, etc.; peelable film for case-ready ground beef package add color and shelf life; pouch heat-sealed, wrap, and reusable container help keep food fresh and free of contamination; and retortable pouch has superior flavor retention and long shelf life.

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