It’s easy to say plastic …
In continuation of the packaging theme already addressed in February 2020 in our blog (https://www.completefood.it/en/sustainable-packaging/) we focus today on plastic, which is one of the main components of many of the wrappers that contain the products that we buy. We could safely say that packaging is the first application of plastic. It would perhaps be more correct to talk about plastics, because many and different are the polymers that group together generically with the term “plastic”.
Just to name a few: PET 01 (polyethylene terephthalate), PVC 03 (polyvinyl chloride), PP 05 (polypropylene), PS 06 (polystyrene), PE (polyethylene which is found at high and low density; HDPE 02 and LDPE 04). But we could continue with Polymethylmethacrylate, Polycarbonate, Polyurethane or Polyamide.
Among these the polymers identified with the codes 01, 02, 03 and 05 are suitable for food preservation, in addition of course to the bioplastics grouped under the code 07.
For a complete list, visit the Corepla website, the National Consortium for the Collection, Recycling and Recovery of Plastic Packaging.
The first semi-synthetic plastic material dates back to the mid-1800s: the chemist Alexander Parkers obtained it by treating nitrocellulose with some solvents.
To arrive at a fully synthetic polymer, it is necessary to wait until the last century and the discovery of bakelite (by Leo Baekeland, chemist of Belgian origin) which revolutionizes the plastics industry thanks to heat resistance and electrical non-conductivity. Bakelite is followed by PVC (vinyl chloride, acetylene and hydrochloric acid based compound), Nylon (polyamide, PA) and then PET. After the war, Eng. chemist Giulio Natta working for Montecatini synthesizes polyethylene, up to the production of isotactic polypropylene, industrially produced with the Moplen brand. Who was already in the 60s of the last century will remember the advertising hype with Gino Bramieri (and mo ‘and mo’ … Moplen!). Returning to PET, this material has meanwhile applied in food packaging and in 1973 Eng. Nathaniel Wyeth patented the PET bottle for Dupont. Light, transparent and resistant, it is still very popular today as a container for water and drinks.
The production of plastic – increased by 20 times compared to the sixties – unfortunately finds its main application precisely in packaging, which are by definition disposable. Then, in case of non-recycling, they end up in the environment. Often in the seas, where they come along rivers. But the sea is not disposable!
The antiplastic narrative starts right from the oceans, and from the damage that plastic does in the marine ecosystem: this happens because the recycling of plastic is not properly managed on land.
Proper management could be based on three pillars (according to the Rethink Plastic Alliance network):
– reduction of production and consumption
– redesign of products, in the perspective of the circular economy, to create durable materials, reusable over time and recyclable at the end of their life
– improve the management of plastic waste, thanks to better collection based on incentives that favor it and discourage the use of virgin plastics.
In the next article we will explore alternative solutions to traditional plastic!
We at Bivo are a small startup and to reduce plastic consumption we are activating a multi-portion line in which the container (a PP bucket, therefore recyclable at the end of its life) contains 25 portions of our product. With external partners we are working on further alternative packaging solutions because we truly believe that food, and the packaging that necessarily contains it for hygiene reasons, needs a revolutionary approach that does not limit itself to the quality of the food itself but makes the binomial content / environmentally sustainable container along the entire production and distribution chain.
Click below to redeem the exclusive 10% discount code dedicated to those looking for a complete, balanced, sustainable and Made in Italy meal replacement. Use the discount code “MADEINITALY”.
– Farewell plastic (by Elisa Nicoli and Chiara Spadaro edited by Altraeconomics)
– AA.VV F ** K Plastic: 101 ways to free yourself from plastic and save the world (Orion Publishing Co)
– A plastic Ocean (www.plasticoceans.org)
– Corepla (www.corepla.it/i-diversi-tipi-di-plastica).