MadSci Network: Chemistry

Re: plastic odor in new food containers

Date: Wed Feb 10 22:05:40 1999
Posted By: Dennis Slatton, Staff, product development, Solvay Engineered Polymers
Area of science: Chemistry
ID: 918159162.Ch


The "plastic" odor you are referring to may in fact be the residual odor 
of the polypropylene or PET resin which the container is made of.  It 
could also be any of a number of mold release agents, anti-static agents, 
or even the antioxidants added to give the container the ability to resist 
degradation brought on by free radicals in the atmosphere and to protect 
the container if used to heat food in a microwave.  A common mold release
(and anti-stat) that is used is erucamide.  Calcium stearate may be used 
as a processing agent and acid scavenger to remove any residual catalyst 
from the synthesis of the PP or PET.  Any or all of these types of 
additives are more likely to be the 'odor' causing species rather than the 
PP or PET due to their size difference.  The plastic(PP or PET is a much 
larger molecule than any additive and therefore is very stable and not 
likely to break down easily.  These additives work because they are so 
small compared to the resin they are in that they migrate to the surface 
and impart the desired characteristic of that additive to the whole part.  
I hope this helps you in your quest.   

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