Many a times we never realize the presence of plastic in, what we consider to be, non-plastic or eco-friendly packaging materials. A lot of plastic hides in coats and lines of cartons, sachets, pouches, cans, caps, lids etc. It seems the plastic attached to the material, for improved efficiency, cannot be done without. Food packaging materials are not spared even. For example, paper milk cartons, juice cartons and the similar tetra-packs are lined with layers of polyethylene, both inside and out. Buyers or the end-users usually hold a wrong belief that such cartons or paper-cans are waxed. As a matter of fact, the original paperboard cartons and cans for food packaging, were coated with paraffin wax, but only until polyethylene became the most suitable waterproofing material.
Opting for paper cups, plates or cardboard cans does not necessarily mean that you are plastic free. Many carton packaging, food packaging, sachet packaging, pouch packaging materials are always coated with a layer of polymer film for waterproofing & moisture resistance. Modern packing techniques have introduced concepts of new paper cup that are coated with a corn-based plastic instead of petro-plastic. Calling for a new beginning, which is more environmentally-friendly, these modern age packaging materials are fully compostable.
From paper products, let us shift our focus on cans, which is another popular food grade packaging material for aerated drinks, alcohol and variety of processed food. One comes across a lot of news and researches that highlight that food cans are lined with polycarbonate, which leaches Bisphenol-A. A handful of BPA-free cans are lined with a type of plastic coating. Consequently, buying canned foods is not being plastic-free. Furthermore, Aluminum soda cans also have BPA plastic lining so that it prevents the soda and the metal reaction.
So, are we plastic free in choosing food containers that serve retail packaging needs?
Well, Glass containers could be an answer.... But not quite convincing owing to their fragile nature that makes storage, transportation and disposition difficult. Moreover, the capping systems of glass containers do have plastic lined. Nevertheless, natural cork stoppers are a plastic free option but can these be used in every kind of glass container?
Well, the recent developments in packaging industry and the upsurge in eco-friendly packaging materials for all kinds of products, be it food, pharmaceutical, cosmetics, consumer durables etc., has paved routes for new packaging techniques. The use of recyclable and eco-friendly materials has extended a new dimension for the entire packaging industry. The drive has consequently boosted the development of new types of packaging machine for in making of cartons, corrugated boxes, food packaging materials, sachets packaging, pouch packaging and much more.
But, as an individual, I think it is always a good idea to be mindful while choosing or using any material that has plastic. A thoughtful effort to reduce individual consumption, as much as we can, will surely add up to the larger cause. Someone said it right... 'It is better to be educated than being blissfully ignorant'.
So do think, what happens to all that plastic. It doesn't biodegrade and is still out there somewhere because the paper has been pulled into new paper, the metal has been made into new cans and the glass recycled.