A History of Packaging

The secret to good packaging is preservation. The contents of the package must be protected from contaminants in the outside world. Food is particularly difficult to preserve as it must be kept sealed away from contaminants that we cannot even see - exposure to microscopic bacteria or fungus can lead food to spoil quickly.  

Before the invention of plastic, it was hard to top the banana skin for food packaging. The banana skin was hardy enough to protect its contents on a long sea voyage, easy to open on arrival and  biodegradable when finished with. 

Paper and card get damp. Metals rust. Wood is food for all sorts of insects. The search for the perfect packaging material turned to the developing science of polymerisation. Over the course of a century, plastics would grow from an obscure branch of chemistry and come to dominate the packaging industry 

The first plastic to be utilised for packaging was cellophane. Its inventor, Jacques E. Brandenburger claimed that watching spilt wine soak into a tablecloth inspired him to spend more than a decade inventing a fabric that would repel liquid. In 1912, his invention was snapped up by the American candy manufacturer Whitman's who used it to wrap their sweets.

Primitive injection moulding machines had been around since the Nineteenth Century. The modern commercial form was pioneered by the German firm Eckert and Ziegler in 1926. From then onwards, plastic packaging could be any shape that it was possible to mould.

Polypropylene was first polymerised in the 1950s. It is now the most used plastic in packaging and labelling. The polypropylene industry is estimated to be worth over $100billion.

Bananas, for the most part, are still sold in their skins. However, take a walk around the supermarket and glance at the packaging. Plastic is here to stay.

At Coda, we can produce plastic packaging for any product you bring us. We use a variety of techniques including injection moulding and blow moulding. Call us on 01692 501020 and we will be happy to discuss ideas with you.

Imperial Leather packaging
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