Due to its puncture- and shatter-resistant properties, plastic can reduce breakages and lower the risk of contamination within retail and home spaces, and surrounding work surfaces. It simultaneously protects the contents from moisture, humidity, gasses and foreign bodies, including microorganisms.
From a food safety perspective, tamper-evident designs that offer multiple reseal and childproofing opportunities keep the contents protected while enhancing consumer confidence. Transparent packaging also allows consumers to look at, but not touch consumable products, reducing instances of contamination and bruising.
Neelin also points out that plastic is a clean packaging medium because it can be filled and sealed, within many factories, without human contact. Most plastic grades can also withstand multiple industrial washing, degassing and temperature sterilisation cleaning processes.
By extending the shelf-life of most foods and fresh produce throughout the distribution chain, plastic packaging helps lower the carbon footprint, since food waste itself has a significantly higher carbon footprint impact, even compared to single-use plastic items. Extended shelf-life also encourages transport over longer distances and positively contributes to international trade.
According to Neelin, although the re-use of plastic packaging items is encouraged, certain single-use items, for example, where sterilization is important, provide benefits such as a lower contamination risk and preserve resources typically required by washing processes. ‘This results in a lower carbon footprint for a fit-for-purpose single-use item than a multiple-use alternative,’ he asserts.