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Top tips for using plastics to store leftover food

Plastics are the perfect material for storing leftover food and keeping it fresh for a little while longer. They are non-toxic and non-reactive, so do not contaminate food. Plastics tubs and containers can also come in a variety of shapes and sizes – some include airtight seals that keep food fresh for even longer. They can also be used to store food in the freezer.

 

Plastics help to reduce food waste and save us money. By not having to throw away leftover food, we can save money at the grocery store by buying fewer ingredients and food items. Plastics play an important role in our lives – sometimes we are not even aware of it. Here are our top tips for storing leftover food.

 

Tip 1: Store leftover food in a sealable plastic container within two hours after cooking. These leftovers can be placed in the fridge or freezer, depending on the type of food.

 

Tip 2: The less air in the container, the better. When storing leftovers in a sealable plastic bag, squeeze out as much air as possible. This helps to save space and prevent freezer burn.

 

Tip 3: Store different food items from a meal in different containers. Meats must be separated from starches, which must be separated from vegetables. This prevents food from spoiling faster and avoids cross-contamination if one food does go off.

 

Tip 4: Store leftover food in shallow and wide plastic containers. This helps to cool the food down more quickly when placed in the fridge or freezer. Deep containers take longer to cool or thaw.

 

Tip 5: Remember that freezing food may prevent the growth of mold and microbes, but it does not kill any bacteria that already exists in the leftovers. When removing these foods from the freezer, do not let them thaw and sit at room temperature for too long before eating or recooking. If possible, thaw leftover food in the fridge for 24 hours before needed.

 

Tip 6: Sealable plastic bags, heavy-duty cling films and plastic containers with wide openings are the best plastic products to use for storing frozen foods in the freezer. Some plastics are temperature resistant, so are not ideal for use in a freezer. Always check the container to see if it is labelled as safe for use in a freezer.

 

Tip 7: If in doubt, throw it out! If you are ever suspicious of leftover food, either because it looks soft and watery or if it has a slight smell, it is safest to throw it away. Food poisoning is not only painful and unpleasant, it can actually be quite dangerous too.

 

These tips will help consumers to safely store their leftover food in plastic containers and sealable bags. By keeping food fresh for longer, we can consume it before it spoils and save money at the grocery store. Plastics play such an important role in the home, especially when it comes to food and cooking.

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Plastics SA represents all sectors of the South African plastics industry. ​Together with our associations, we play an active role in the growth and development of the industry and strive to address plastics related issues, influence role-players and make plastics the material of choice.

 

​Plastics SA has been mandated to ensure a vibrant and sustainable plastics industry in South Africa. The plastics sector is uniquely placed to meet the needs of a sustainable society and to deliver solutions to many challenges such as recycling, climate change, water scarcity, resource usage and energy recovery.

 

For more news, updates and information on the South African plastics industry, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn and Pinterest.

Plastic packaging type 5 – PP

Modern life as we know it would not be possible without plastics and plastic packaging. They keep our goods protected, our food fresh and are vital for the functioning of daily life, whether we are aware of it or not. Plastics have many advantages, including cost-effective production and being easy to recycle and reuse. Plastics need to be recycled properly in order to maximise their economic value and to minimise their environmental impact.

To understand more about plastics, we will shed some light on the different types of polymer, their benefits and their recyclability properties, including what products can be made from recycled plastic. We will go according to the material identification codes found on plastics. These are numerical symbols from one to seven that are used to identify the type of plastic.

This coding system is used around the globe by recyclers, waste management companies and plastics manufacturers. It enables them to separate and sort plastics so that they can be processed according to the main polymer present. All plastic packaging should display these material identification codes. The fifth polymer used for plastic packaging is polypropylene (PP).

What is PP?

PP is a hardy, flexible and versatile polymer that is used to manufacture a variety of moulded products, such as dairy tubs for butter and ice cream, plastic furniture, buckets, car bumpers, fibres and woven cloth. PP is the fourth-most commonly recycled polymer in South Africa due to its various applications in daily life. Just under 62 000 tonnes of PP were recycled in South African facilities during the 2018 financial year.

Polypropylene is a member of a group of plastics known as polyolefins. Structurally, it is similar to polyethylene, the difference being that every other carbon in the backbone chain has a methyl group attached to it. Its durability and flexibility make it the perfect polymer for packaging and woven products. Recycling figures for PP over the past five years have shown steady growth, year-on-year. This can be attributed to the fact that more applications are being developed for PP and that a well-established collection network exists. 

Benefits of PP packaging

PP has numerous unique characteristics that make it a valuable packaging material. It is one of the most widely-used plastics in everyday life. PP holds colour well, doesn’t absorb water and is ideal for such robust applications as moulded luggage and storage boxes, woven bags and carpet backings, houseware and tools. Its flexibility also allows plastics manufacturers to make hinged products from PP, such as clip-on lids for plastic containers.

PP is a non-toxic and non-reactive plastic, so it can be used in the food and beverage industry to store goods for consumption. The hollow nature of the fibre gives it excellent water (and sweat) absorption properties in clothing and other woven fabrics. These characteristics and benefits make PP a highly valuable plastic packaging material and one of the most recycled polymers in South Africa.

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Plastics SA represents all sectors of the South African plastics industry. ​Together with our associations, we play an active role in the growth and development of the industry and strive to address plastics related issues, influence role-players and make plastics the material of choice.

​Plastics SA has been mandated to ensure a vibrant and sustainable plastics industry in South Africa. The plastics sector is uniquely placed to meet the needs of a sustainable society and to deliver solutions to many challenges such as recycling, climate change, water scarcity, resource usage and energy recovery.

For more news, updates and information on the South African plastics industry, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn and Pinterest.