Why are plastics used in packaging?

Packaging serves many purposes.  The public may think the package lasts only a few minutes during the use of the product, but the real demands are much more extensive.  Packaging must deliver the product through a potentially long distribution chain to the consumer such that the product meets all expectations regardless of the history encountered.   The package must allow the product to be attractive and must deliver aesthetic appeal and information.  The package must protect the product at low cost and ease of use with minimal environmental impact.  And the package must meet the various regulatory requirements set by various governments.  With the proper selection of plastic and packaging type, the quality of the product good, ranging from sensitive electronics to fresh foods, can be maintained during shipping, handling and merchandising. Plastics are a versatile family of materials that are suitable for a wide range of packaging applications. In many cases, plastics offer the best protection while using minimal resources and creating less waste than alternative materials. A study in Germany showed that 400 percent more material by weight would be needed to make packaging if there were no plastics, and the volume of packaging would more than double1.  Another European study showed that if plastic packaging did not exist, the annual extra burden required to replace the packaging function would consume an additional 14.2 millions tons of oil (equal to a line of super tanker ships over 14 miles long) and produce an additional 47.3 million tons of CO2 (equal to the annual output of over 12 million automobiles)2.  While all packaging continues to be optimized, the basic message of the efficiency of plastic packaging to deliver a product as expected and at low cost is still true.  

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