Plastic is one of the most used materials for packaging products worldwide. It is cost-effective and provides excellent protection to the packaged products. It is lightweight which makes it more convenient for transportation and reduces its carbon footprints too.

The plastic packaging industry was valued at $198 billion in 2017 and it is likely to reach $269.6 billion by the year 2025. The food and beverage industry will be the biggest driver for plastic packaging going ahead and is likely to grow at 4.2% annually.

Asia-Pacific is the largest market for plastic packaging followed by North America in the second spot. The current article provides answers to some of the most frequently asked questions pertaining to plastic packaging.

What is Plastic Packaging Called

There are different types of plastics used for packaging purpose. Some of the most commonly used plastic polymers for packaging are as follows:

  • High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE) is the most commonly used plastic polymer for packaging. They have good toughness and barrier properties and are ideal for packaging a variety of products. It has good chemical resistance so it is used for packaging of industrial and chemical-based products.
  • Low-Density Polyethylene (LDPE) is known for its toughness, flexibility, and transparency. It is a popular choice for packaging where heat sealing is used.
  • Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) is colorless and tough and is used for making beverage bottles and other injection molded packaging containers. It is odorless, chemical resistant, and has good barrier properties which make it an excellent choice for the packaging of food products.
  • Polypropylene (PP) is a strong polymer with a high melting point which makes it ideal for packaging hot-fill liquids.
  • Poly Vinyl Chloride (PVC) is cheap and has good chemical resistance. It is used for blister packaging and clamshells.

What is Plastic Packaging? 13 Most Asked Questions

How are Plastic Packaging Boxes Made

The plastic packaging boxes are made using the latest and state-of-the-art production technology. Most manufacturers are now moving towards using the advanced and superior bonding technique for manufacturing plastic boxes instead of the traditional ultrasonic and interlocking tabs.

The manufacturing materials also being used these days are sustainable and eco-friendly, which do not pose any serious threat to the environment.

How Much Does Plastic Packaging Boxes Cost

Plastic packaging boxes are one of the cheapest and most effective packaging solutions available. They offer you cost-effectiveness along with good durability and barrier properties. If you buy in bulk then a typical plastic packaging box will cost you less than $0.50.

These packaging boxes can be easily assembled by folding along the soft fold lines. Using a plastic packaging cost can mean that your packaging cost can be reduced to nearly 15% of the total product cost.

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How to Recycle Plastic Packaging Materials

Plastic packaging these days are totally recyclable which is a great improvement over the non-recyclable and non-biodegradable plastic packaging used earlier.

It is estimated that in 2016, nearly 90% of the US population was in a position to recycle plastic bottles and 60% can recycle rigid plastic materials.

What is Plastic Packaging? 13 Most Asked Questions

Similarly, 45% of all the plastic packaging used in the UK was recycled in 2016. Plastic packaging materials can be recycled using mechanical recycling or by chemical recycling in which the plastic is further broken down into its constituent parts.

There are challenges and barriers to mechanical recycling of plastics as it is difficult and costly to collect, sort, and process plastic packaging for recycling.

This is where chemical recycling helps as it breaks down the longer molecular polymeric carbon chains into medium length carbon chains and into synthetic crude oil that can be used to make new plastics.  Most plastic packaging bags and films are recycled into composite lumber.

Recycling is also cost-effective as it costs nearly $4,000 to recycle one ton of plastic packaging materials, while the selling price of it can be 2-3 times more than the recycling costs.

Where to Buy Plastic Packaging Boxes

You can buy plastic packaging boxes from a reputed and professional manufacturer. You need to do proper due diligence before finalizing the manufacturer as packaging is an important element of your product and you should ensure only the best quality packaging boxes for it.

You can start by identifying plastic packaging box manufacturers who make the type of plastic box which is best suited for your product. You should also check the minimum order quantity restrictions with them. If a manufacturer has a high minimum order barrier which is much more than your requirement, then it is better to look for other alternatives.

It is also important to assess the type of manufacturing infrastructure and capabilities possessed by the manufacturer. They should have the latest production equipment and should be able to meet the deadlines for production and supply of plastic packaging boxes.

They should also have a highly experienced and trained workforce which can ensure defect-free production of plastic packaging boxes. You should also negotiate the rates with different manufacturers and sellers to get the best rate for plastic packaging boxes.

What is Plastic Packaging? 13 Most Asked Questions

Why Does My Cat Like Plastic Packaging

Cats are known to be playful and chew plastic packaging boxes. If the packaging box contains food items or groceries, then the lingering smell of food can entice cats into chewing it.

Cats are very sensitive to smell and thus can detect the smell of food items in the plastic packaging from a distance which makes them play with it. Some plastic packaging boxes are also coated with cornstarch, stearates, or contain traces of animal by-products like gelatin which make them attractive to cats.

Many cats are known to enjoy the crinkling sounds made by plastic packaging and thus they play with them. Some experts also believe that the smooth texture of plastic packaging is liked by cats on their tongue which is why they like licking and chewing it.

Some plastics may also contain particular chemicals which may mimic pheromones or other attractants which draws cats to play with them.

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What Plastic is Used for Blister Packaging

Blister packaging is done by the thermoforming process. It involves heating a sheet of plastic to a temperature where it can be easily molded into any shape. Blister packaging has pre-formed pocket or shell inside of which the product is placed securely. The different types of blister packaging are as follows:

  • Face Seal blister packaging surrounds the product and is heat sealed into a piece of cardboard. The seal is only used on the flange and the rest of the cardboard remains uncovered. This is a common and inexpensive form of blister packaging.
  • Full face blister packaging involves the blister seal extending to the entire face of the cardboard. This provides better strength and durability to the packaging and protects the packaged product. It also comes with a hanging feature.
  • Full card blister packaging is similar to full face blister packaging with the only difference that instead of being sealed to the cardboard, its flanges are wrapped around it.
  • Clamshell packaging makes use of a blister card which is inserted and not sealed on the as in other types of blister packaging. It is more durable than the previously mentioned blister packaging forms and is costlier also.
  • Skin packaging is another form of blister packaging where a thin film is placed over the product on a blister card. The film is strong and clear and wraps around the product as its skin which is where it derives its name from.

What is Plastic Packaging? 13 Most Asked Questions

The most commonly used plastic polymers for blister packaging are PET and PVC. They are strong and rugged in nature which provides excellent protection to the packaged product.

Blister packaging is used in packaging a wide range of products in industries like electronics, pharmaceuticals, consumer goods, personal care products, office supplies, etc.

What Type of Plastic is Food Packaging Made From

While using plastic for food packaging, it is important to ensure that the plastic polymer being used is approved for the same and is food-safe. In the US, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves plastic as being food-safe which are known as food contact substances (FCS).

FDA defines FCS as substances which are intended to be used as a component of materials used in manufacturing, packaging, transporting, or holding food products.

PET is commonly used for food packaging. It is biologically inert if ingested, is dermally safe and is not hazardous if inhaled. PET is a stable plastic resin and it does not react with or contaminate the food products on coming in contact with it.

PP is also commonly used in reusable food containers. It is also used to manufacture single-serving food tubs. PP has a high melting point which makes it ideal for use in microwaves.

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It does not react with the liquids, acids, or bases and is perfect for food packaging. HDPE is also considered safe for food packaging and is used for packaging of milk, fruit juices, butter containers, cereal box liners, food buckets used in cafeterias, etc.

Virgin HDPE is cleared by the FDA for food packaging. The FDA checks the use of recycled HDPE for food packaging on a case-to-case basis.

Why is Plastic Packaging Bad for the Environment?

Single-use plastic packaging is considered bad for the environment. Such packaging is meant to be used only once, after which it is disposed of by the end consumer. It is not recycled and either ends up being in landfills or even worse, in the ocean bed. It is estimated that nearly 50% of the plastic packaging is single use and is not recycled.

Such plastic packaging does not decompose easily and it can take up to 500 years or more for them to decompose in the landfills. Studies have also indicated that 8 million metric tons of plastic end up in the ocean each year which adds to the approximately 150 million tons of plastic weight already existing in the oceans.

What is Plastic Packaging? 13 Most Asked Questions

This figure is only expected to increase considering our lifestyle and ways of disposing of plastic packaging waste.  Scientists have claimed that in the next 10 years, the oceans will be littered with nearly 250 million tons of plastic waste and by 2050, there will be a more plastic waste in the oceans than fish.

This seriously damages the marine water ecosystem and also puts humans at risk of consuming these toxic plastic particles by means of seafood.

How to Reseal Plastic Packaging

Resealing plastic packaging box is the easiest way to protect the packaged product especially for food items. If the packaging does not provide you with ziplock feature and you do not have a ziplock bag handy with you, you can consider resealing the original package after using it.

You can use a matchstick or lighter and run it along the opened side of the packaging by pressing the two sides of the plastic packaging bag together. The packaging bag will be resealed and this will keep your food products fresh and safe for long.

What is Plastic Packaging? 13 Most Asked Questions

How do You Recycle Plastic Water Bottle Packaging?

Plastic water bottles can be one of the easiest packaging materials to be recycled. The bottles are first collected from the end consumers and are sorted for removing any other materials like metals, glass, etc. The bottles are then sorted according to the plastic resin they are made of.

The bottles are then cleaned to remove any food residue or liquids. They are then shredded and converted into flakes which are then melted and formed into small pellets.

These pellets are then bundled and sold to other companies which can make use of the plastic to make other plastic products.

How to Open Plastic Packaging  

Some plastic packaging like clamshell packaging is difficult to open without scissors and you should take proper precautions before opening it with your hands.

You can use a can opener or tin snips to open it safely. They can cut effortlessly through the hard clamshell packaging. You may also consider wearing protective gloves to protect against any injuries to your hands.

Another precaution is not to hold the packaging between your legs to stabilize it while opening as it can cause injuries. You should ensure that children are not around while trying to open sturdy clamshell packaging.



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