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Analytical methods for plastic packaging of foods

Uwe Oppermann, Marion Engelkraut-Holthus, Jan Knoop, Shimadzu Deutschland GmbH


The influence of cups, plastic bottles and film packaging on human health and the environment is a challenge. Supermarket shelves are full of products that are, in part, packaged in highly complex plastics.

These types of packaging materials are lightweight and also highly stable, and protect expensive as well as easily perishable products against environmental influences. At the same time, plastic packaging carries colorful printed advertising messages and fact-oriented product information.

But plastic packaging materials are in-creasingly the subject of criticism, because undesirable and potentially hazardous substances can migrate from the packaging into the foods when in direct contact. More plastic also means more waste. Plastics not only end up in recycling yellow bags and on landfills but also in rivers and seas - and in the stomachs of fish and seabirds.

Just to quantify, a brief look at Germany as one of the largest European countries. In 2013, around 17.1 million tons of plastic packaging wastes were generated. The increase to this highest level is attributable mainly to changes in consumption patterns. Nearly 72 percent, i.e. 12 million tons of the packaging wastes went into recycling .

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