Plastic is a marvel. It has been around since the turn of the last century and was considered to be a miracle material. Manufacturing is easy and inexpensive. It is waterproof, mouldable, corrosion-resistant, has excellent electrical resistance, and is chemically inert. It can be coloured, melted, shaped, squashed, rolled into sheets or made into plastic fibres, as well as hygienic and not poisonous to our bodies…. But, plastics are used in thousands of products that add comfort, convenience and safety, like sports helmets to the bullet-proof vest. Plastic also protects consumers. Tamper-proof packaging keeps consumers safe, and child-proof packaging keeps children safe from accidental poisoning by medications or chemicals. Practically, the perfect product.
All of these perfect reasons have created the perfect storm of plastic manufacturing and created an insatiable demand. When demand grows, the costs start to decrease, making it so that using other materials does not make sense from a cost perspective. Plastic is now a trillion-dollar industry, and over 300 million tonnes of plastic are manufactured every year and estimated to double over the next 20.
Is this a real cause for concern? Plastic is fantastic for so many applications. Food is the issue. This is the most significant reason for concern is. Most plastic for food is single-use, then typically goes into the trash, if we are lucky. “Lucky,” meaning if it ends up in the waste, then the landfill where it will sit for several hundreds of years decomposing slowly, leaking toxins and emitting carbon and methane. If we are not “lucky,” it may end up in the ocean, along with the hundreds of millions of tonnes of other plastic garbage, where it either washes up on shore or breaks down at sea. Then it is eaten by the wildlife who are getting sick or dying in vast numbers because plastic is toxic. All plastic contains chemicals which are necessary during the manufacturing process. These chemicals have been toxic to humans, so not only are we using these plastics to wrap our foods, but we are also ingesting them.
Avoiding food plastic is becoming more and more challenging. When it comes to buying, cooking and storing food, plastic is pervasive. You will have to make conscious choices regarding your purchasing habits. Plastics have found its way into our homes and work lives more than most of us recognize. When it comes to buying, cooking, and storing food, plastic is pervasive. While studies show that chemicals leaching from plastics may be small, it has not been proven safe. Thankfully, there are several more reliable alternative materials, including ceramics, glass, stainless steel, wood that are far superior to plastic for sustainable food storage solutions.