Packaging Materials 5: Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) for Food Packaging Applications

ILSI Europe Report Series

The ILSI Europe Packaging Materials Task Force has published another report on Polyvinyl Chloride for Food Packaging Applications. This report is the fifth in the series on packaging materials (following the ones on PET, polystyrene, polypropylene and polyethylene). Polyvinyl chloride, known as PVC, is one of the world’s leading synthetic polymers. It has many uses, ranging from long-term construction applications, such as pipes used in the transportation of potable water, to short-term uses, such as food packaging. Because of the presence of chlorine, it is a highly polar polymer, which allows a wide range of additives to be incorporated within it. This variety of additives permits a broad range of physical property characteristics; hence there is not one PVC composition but many. This also explains the great diversity of applications in which PVC has been used from the time of its original commercial development in the early 1930s, when a few hundred tons were produced, to its annual global consumption rate of nearly 25 million tons in the year 2000. This report provides the reader with a general overview of the use of PVC in food packaging applications. It describes the main additives used in PVC compositions in food packaging as well as the regulatory framework for the selection of these additives. Attention is given to the health and safety of the consumer regarding the safe use of the product. In addition, a section is devoted to environmental considerations in the manufacture and waste management of PVC.

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