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Waste less food on summer road trips

Plastics help keep food fresher while reducing packaging waste

August 19, 2014

Summer is peak season for road trips, which usually include plenty of snacks and beverages. But nobody wants to end the trip with spoiled food and heaps of waste. To help protect your food and the environment, Plastics Make it Possible® ( offers tips on how plastics can help reduce both food waste and packaging waste during long road trips.

"Summer road trips don't have to include soggy sandwiches and excessive waste," says Steve Russell, vice president of plastics for the American Chemistry Council, which sponsors the Plastics Make it Possible® initiative. "Lightweight plastics can help prevent a lot of food waste and reduce packaging waste, so you can bring along fresh and healthful foods while leaving a lighter environmental footprint."

Here are some tips on how road trippers can reduce food and packaging waste:

  • Lightweight Pouches: A wide variety of foods today are packaged in flexible, lightweight plastic pouches that protect food with very little material, so it's easy to toss them in a purse, picnic basket, or backpack. Look for snack foods such as nuts, trail mix, and dried fruits in re-sealable pouches that let you eat only the amount of food you need and then seal and store the rest for later, which helps reduce food waste.
  • Airtight Storage: Exposing food to excess oxygen can lead to spoilage on the road. Packing fruits, vegetables, sandwiches, and snacks in airtight plastic zipper bags can help reduce food waste. Simply squeeze the extra air out of the bags before zipping them closed to help keep food fresher longer. For prepared foods, airtight plastic containers are lightweight and easy to carry around—without the worry of shattering.
  • Lighter Loads: Plastic bottles, containers, bags, cups, plates typically are lighter and use less material than available alternatives, so they can help reduce packaging waste. Coolers made with insulating plastic foam also are lightweight and help keep snacks cool and fresh during long drives. Some are even made with recycled plastics.
  • Road Trip Recycling: To reduce packaging waste even further, encourage recycling on the road by keeping two plastic bags in the car—one to collect trash and the other for recyclables. Everyday plastic packaging such as beverage bottles, juice jugs, butter tubs, condiment containers, and more can be recycled in communities across the country. And remember to save those plastic grocery bags, plus the bags and wraps from bread, buns, bottled water cases, napkins, and other products—they are collected at participating grocery stores. When recycled, these everyday plastics can live on as new products and keep valuable materials out of landfills. 


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