Play it safe…

One thing that has resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic and the CMCO or whatever lockdown is the surge in the use of plastic containers as a lot of people would order cooked food to be delivered to their homes. Even though I, for one, have not done anything of the sort since it all began, I did not know until I read about it in zmun‘s blog that those are supposed to be for single-use and should not be used to contain food more than once.

I went and googled to read up about this and I found this one that says that takeaway plastic food containers used at eating establishments, including hawker centres, are meant for single use and such containers should not be used repeatedly. They are safe for their immediate intended purpose, but not beyond what they are designed for. Oh dear! We have been reusing those containers all this while!

Ever since the ban in Sibu on the use of polystyrene containers which we would simply throw away after eating the food inside, the general public has been encouraged to use these disposable cardboard boxes…

Disposable cardboard boxes

…instead. For one thing, they complain that they are very expensive, more expensive than the plastic ones, and sometimes, they transfer the cost to the buyers so if you want to tapao something, you will have to pay extra…

Extra charge

…and that can be as much as 30-50 sen!

Other than that, those boxes are rather flimsy and  not durable especially when used to contain something hot. The steam will make it soggy and it will tear very easily.

The article also goes on to say that for repeated storage of food, consumers should opt only for reusable plastic food containers that have been specifically designed for repeated use. I’m afraid that is not very clear. Does that refer to containers like Tupperware that cost an arm or a leg? What about those cheap plastic containers that they sell at the shops like the Mr DIY or 100% Discount or Supersave stores?

In another article that I found, it says that chemicals lurking in some containers — especially those that aren’t designed for reuse — could leach out of the plastic and into your food if you heat them in the microwave, toss them in the dishwasher, or leave them in the sun for a long period of time. Well, I don’t have a microwave nor a dishwasher but maybe, this is the reason why people have been told not to keep their plastic bottles of mineral or drinking water in their cars.

That article also went on to say this:  But before you toss your tub away, check the bottom for the recycling code, a number that can help you identify what type of plastic your container is made from. If you see #2, #4, or #5, then you’re most likely in the clear for chemicals, which means you can safely reuse your container, whether you bought it at the supermarket or brought it home from a restaurant.

I went and checked all the plastic containers that we have in the house such as this rectangular one…

Plastic container, rectangular

…or this one…

Made from recyclable plastic

…that they claim (at the bottom) is made from recyclable plastic and all the round ones…

Round plastic containers

…including those from the fast food franchises that they use for their whipped/mashed potatoes or their coleslaw and all of them had this…

No. 5

…at the bottom. As you can see, in the recycle icon, there is the No. 5! I guess that means they are all o.k.

Still, whatever it is, we should put in a concerted effort to cut down on the use of plastic. Some of you may recall that I did mention in some earlier posts that I keep my stainless steel tiffin carrier in the boot of my car so everytime when I need to buy something home, I would just take it out and use…and yes, I do keep those big recycled carrier bags too for when I go shopping at the supermarkets and I did buy a whole lot of these glass containers…

glass containers

…on offer, selling for less than half price. I can use them to store food in the fridge or in the freezer. Other than doing our bit for our environment, however small, it is good to play it safe…and avoid using all those plastic containers as far as we can.