When it comes to the type of plastic used in packaging, source material matters. That’s because not all plastics are created equally – and not all finished plastics are safe for use with food, drugs, and other sensitive products.
Food and Drug-Safe Plastics
To be approved for food and drug contact, a plastic must not absorb the contents of the packaging, be they oil or water-based in nature. It must be resistant to temperature fluctuation and airtight when sealed, and some applications also require light-blocking thickness.
Some types of plastic are better suited to long-term food and drug storage than others. Polypropylene is excellent for this application, since it can be made in thin, flexible film or in thick, rigid containers that do not absorb liquids, fragrances, or anything else from the items contained inside. It is also used to hold body care items and topical medications that might otherwise be unstable during long-term storage.
Choosing the Right Plastic
How can you be sure you are choosing the right type of plastic for your application? Today’s plastics are all marked with a symbol which indicates the type of plastic used in their manufacturing. While this is primarily used to indicate their ability to be recycled and how they should be recycled, it also tells you much about their chemical structure – and how safe they are for various uses.
The most commonly used plastics – bearing codes 1-7 inside the recycling symbol on their surface – are all FDA approved for food contact. However, it is important to always choose a plastic that is rigid, sturdy, or opaque enough for the application you are manufacturing it for with the least amount of material waste. For more information, talk to your local producer of industrial packaging supplies.