Saturday Jun 15, 2024

How Was Meals Packaged Earlier than We Had Plastic?


With the sudden and robust push to remove as many single-use plastics as attainable, an enormous goal appears to be plastic meals containers. But it appears as if we’re searching for to remove such containers with out severely contemplating why we even have them. And to know why we’ve got them we have to understand how meals was packaged earlier than plastic was a factor.

Plastic meals containers exist for a motive. Truly, there are a number of causes. Ditching plastic would require going again to legacy packaging or arising with one thing that’s simply as efficient as plastic however not as dangerous as we assume plastic have to be. To this point, there is no such thing as a higher substitute materials. That leaves us returning to the best way meals was packaged.

90 Years of Plastic Packaging

For the document, one of many earliest plastics ever made was a cloth generally known as Parkesine. It was a bioplastic first launched within the 1860s. The primary commercially viable plastic meals packaging materials was a cellophane wrap launched by Dow Chemical in 1933. It was adopted 13 years later by Tupperware.

All of that is talked about as an instance the truth that we’ve got been utilizing plastic meals packaging for practically 90 years. We’re so accustomed to plastic meals packaging that many people in all probability don’t really understand how totally different life could be if we went again to legacy supplies.

It Was All Paper and Glass

For probably the most half, meals packaging earlier than plastic consisted of paper and glass. One went to the butcher for freshly lower meats wrapped in paper. The native dairy delivered milk in glass bottles. Now, earlier than you resolve that the previous methods don’t appear so dangerous, contemplate how folks shopped for groceries again then.

In the present day, you should buy meat in bulk and put it within the freezer. Plastic is what makes that attainable. Within the previous days, you needed to go to the butcher a number of occasions per week. You couldn’t purchase a number of gallons of milk at a time, both. You’d get glass bottles delivered on a daily schedule, bottles you needed to wash out and return to the dairy.

Is a world so fast to throw out single-use plastics prepared to return to the inconvenience of each day visits to the butcher, fish market, produce market, and baker? Are we prepared to purchase our drinks in glass bottles and both pay a better worth or wash and return them?

Allow us to Repair the Recycling Drawback

There’s a higher strategy to take care of single-use plastic meals packaging than eliminating it. That higher means is to repair the recycling drawback. Proper now, recycling shopper plastics doesn’t work. However that’s not as a result of recycling isn’t unworkable. It’s as a result of the system we designed to do it’s set as much as fail.

The commercial plastic recycling trade proves day-after-day that recycling is doable. Take Seraphim Plastics out of Tennessee. The corporate buys industrial plastic waste in seven states, transports that waste to its processing services, and turns it right into a recyclable materials it sells to producers.

Their course of and enterprise mannequin work as a result of they’re environment friendly.  If we actually, genuinely wished to, we might apply the very same course of to shopper recycling. Sure, it could be loads of work. However it could permit us to maintain single-use meals packaging and all the advantages it presents.

Eliminating single-use meals packaging is a short-sighted answer rooted in our unwillingness to vary. Sarcastically, life will change drastically anyway if we remove single-use meals packaging.

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