Oct 12

Plastics

Posted by Packaging Sense in Featured | Uncategorized

Did you know that the first thermoplastic was a compound created from nitrocellulose and camphor? The two first brands being used were Parkesine and Xylonite until Celluloid was registered in 1869 in Newark, New Jersey. It was first used as a replacement for ivory. Well, that’s a long time ago and if there is one material which has constantly been improved with time, it is certainly plastic, in any form or composition. We have polyethene, polypropylene, polystyrene, polyvinyl chloride, etc. basically developed from crude oil.

The famous words by the Russian chemist Dmitri Mendeleev have to be mentioned here. He said: “burning petroleum is as stupid as firing up a kitchen stove with bank notes”. Yes, it is far better to use the world’s resources or crude oil to make plastics than to heat, drive cars, etc.!

As I’m not a scientist, nor a packaging technologist, I will here only deal with the enormous utility of plastics to communicate, or rather let the product do so, as most plastics used are transparent.

We all know by now that the main advantage of plastic as a packaging material is that it is light. And were it not that so much plastics end up in the nature, I’m sure that our shopping bags in plastic would have less impact on the environment than the heavier paper version.

I will not enter the ongoing discussion about recycling, as it is just common sense to recycle plastics of a certain weight, while thin plastic films help our incinerators to be more efficient!

We can get fantastic results when the marketing and the technical services meet. I believe that the recent Coca-Cola plastic BOPP label that turned into a great ribbon or bow tie was just great! Just a pity it didn’t work each time.

Some brands would, in my opinion, not have existed, were it not for the plastic material. I think of Tic Tac, Mon Chéri or Ferrero Rocher. Plastic bottles are no doubt superior to glass when handled by kids, so we see for instance a lot of plastic ketchup bottles.


What would the whole chips industry be without plastic bags, whether aluminised or not. Most PET bottles have now labels in the same material. This is logical when you think of recycling.


But most of all, I think that plastics are best when combined with paper, cardboard, etc. to obtain see through windows, as consumers wish to see what they purchase.





One of my biggest learning during my years at Nestlé was no doubt the possibility to embrace any material, as from a communication point of view, the material often says more than a text or an image. Long live plastics!

LW/September 2016

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