Is Cellophane Paper or Plastic? The ecoVeritas Christmas Lunch
22nd December 2016
It’s the most wonderful time of the year: the ecoVeritas Christmas Lunch. This year, the ecoVeritas team bundled into a taxi for a brief tour of the city of Oxford en route the eagerly awaited meal at the Red Lion pub in the centre of town. Once the starter course was underway, the Secret Santa’s bag of gifts was unveiled and presents were distributed by our resident Father Christmas for the meal, Tony. Many a sock had been purchased, in addition to a rather complex sounding card game, a hefty garlic crusher, and a book on British Wildlife for Paul (who was later tested on his knowledge of the book he had only possessed for 20 minutes with positive results).
As gifts were being opened, one member of the team was astonished to be informed that cellophane is not plastic but ought to be classified as paper. This prompted a brief discussion of the properties of cellophane, and indeed various different forms of plastic, although this discussion revolved around what happens to different materials when burned. It was suggested, by more than one member of the team, that the so-called cellophane wrap of the aforementioned card game was burnt to provide an answer to whether or not it was indeed cellophane, although the remaining, more sensible, members of the indicated that a restaurant is not the place for burning packaging. Following the meal, the team ventured on to the next pub around the corner for one final drink before heading on our respective ways.
Many thanks to Richard and ecoVeritas for an enjoyable and enlightening end to the year. And, very best wishes for the coming holiday season and the New Year from the ecoVeritas team to all our blog readers.
To answer the burning question from above, whether or not cellophane is paper or plastic depends on a number of factors. In the UK, cellophane technically refers to a thin film of regenerated cellulose, which was, and continues to a lesser extent, to be used as a packaging material. Currently it is largely popular for cigar packaging, as it is permeable and allows the tobacco product to “breathe”, as well as gaining popularity for food packaging due to its biodegradable nature. Despite this, cellophane is sometimes used colloquially to refer to thin plastic film. However, in some countries, the USA for example, cellophane is not a protected trademark meaning that it can be used as a general term for thin packaging film. This means that in the UK cellophane is indeed paper, but in the US and some others countries it may be both.
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