in Daily Life

PVC Packaging

Polyvinyl chloride (PVC, or vinyl) can be shaped by heat. Extrusion, injection and blow moulding and calendering and are just some of the fabrication methods used to make packages such as film for food wrap, blister packs for tablets, clear bottles for cordial and vegetable oils, punnets for fruit and vegetables and clam shell casing to protect electronic goods in transit.

Versatile, cost effective, coloured or transparent, PVC protects many products as they make their way from the manufacturer to the consumer.

Consumers are aware that many plastics, including PVC can be recycled, and participation in recycling schemes in Australia is high. View more about recycling.

Rigid PVC packaging
Rigid packaging includes containers such as cordial bottles and strawberry punnets. 'Blister packs' commonly used for packaging pharmaceuticals are also fabricated from rigid PVC. Rigid PVC packaging can be recycled.

Flexible PVC packaging
Non-food applications for flexible PVC film include the many types of shrink sleeves available. Shrink sleeves bundle quantities of a product together for safe and efficient transporting. The bundles range from small packs of pharmaceuticals to large pallets of industrial components.

Easy to apply, the packaging is formed at low temperatures. PVC is a material which can be printed, making product identification simple. Identification is also assisted because PVC film is often transparent. Shrink wrapping provides tamper-proof protection for goods in transit.

PVC food contact film
Plasticised PVC film contributes to food safety, both protecting and preserving food. PVC film is successfully used as vacuum packaging for many fresh products including meat and pre-cooked meals. At home, in supermarkets and in catering establishments, food wrap is widely-used means of food storage and protection.

Some of the many advantages of plasticised PVC cling films include:

  • Controlled oxygen and water vapour transmission
  • Cost effectiveness (suitable for use on high-speed packing machines)
  • Excellent stretch and recovery characteristics
  • Enhanced food presentation
  • Provision of a contact barrier
  • Excellent cling and seal
  • Puncture resistant
  • Ability to be heat sealed

Industry Voluntary Commitment

PVC film is a softened, or plasticised material. During manufacture, plasticiser chemicals are added to the PVC resin to provide the flexibility in the final product.  In Australia, manufacturers are required by the Food Standards Code to ensure food in contact with packaging is safe. To protect consumers, Standard 1.4.1 - Contaminants and Natural Toxicants sets out the maximum levels of some contaminants that may be present in food as a result of contact with packaging material.

To further reduce consumer concerns, manufacturers of PVC food contact packaging films who are signatories to the Australian industry's PVC Stewardship Program commit to avoid the use of ortho-phthalates - a particular group of plasticiser chemicals - in PVC food contact packaging film supplied to the Australian market. These Signatories are required to report annually to the Vinyl Council on the use of safe and sustainable additives and are periodically audited under the PVC Stewardship Program.

This voluntary commitment in effect tightens the Australian Standard for Plastics and Food Contact AS 2070 (1999), the standard with which all Australian-made films comply. The most commonly used plasticiser in locally made PVC food contact films is di-2-ethylhexyl adipate (DEHA), otherwise marketed as di-octyl adipate (DOA), which is often used in conjunction with polymeric plasticisers.

In terms of disposal, most plastics including PVC can be recycled, however, recycling cling wrap after it has been in contact with food is difficult.

Visit these web sites for more information on food packaging: