Sterilisation Processes

The sterilisation of plastic is especially important if you are going to store consumables like food, beverages, ingredients or medicine. Although many companies today manufacture food grade and food safe containers, sterilisation is still a vital process to combat any health risks - particularly when storing consumable products over long periods. The sterilisation of plastic is especially important if you are going to store consumables like food, beverages, ingredients or medicine. Although many companies today manufacture food grade and food safe containers, sterilisation is still a vital process to combat any health risks - particularly when storing consumable products over long periods. 

Sterilisation

Solent Plastics has a wide range of plastic containers that can used for food handling and storage. Let’s take a quick look at the various stages of the sterilisation process:

Microwave Sterilisation

Commonly employed to sterilise plastic containers that are microwave-safe, simply add 250ml-500ml of water and place the container in the microwave – the water will serve as the heat sink to prevent the plastic from warping or melting. Put the smaller containers together in another larger container and microwave for three minutes at the highest setting. Remove the containers, taking care to keep them sterile.

Autoclave Process

Also known as ‘steaming’, the autoclave process involves generating or injecting saturated steam into a pressure chamber at a certain temperature range and for a period of time that is sufficient enough to provide sterilisation. This can be used for larger food containers and for other bigger volume plastic containers such as those that might be used in laboratories and for industrial purposes.

The plastics that can safely undergo the autoclaving process are:

  • Polypropylene (PP, recycle #5)
  • Polycarbonate (PC, no recycle number assigned)

The following plastics CANNOT undergo the autoclave process:

  • Polyethylene (PE, recycle #1)
  • High-density polyethylene (HDPE, recycle #2)

Cold Sterilisation

This new technology was developed at Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory. The plastics use cold plasma discharges – this process does not employ heat, gamma radiation steam, hot water or any other chemical agents to sterilise the plastic. Storage solutions being treated in this way are currently being used in:

  • The beverage industry
  • The food industry
  • The pharmaceutical industry

Other Types of Sterilisation

There are many other sterilisation processes that apply to sensitive products and the best solution will depend on the nature of the polymer:

  • Ethylene Oxide Gas (EtO) - typically used to sterilise materials that are too sensitive to heat
  • Ionising Radiation - a process that affects the polymer's physical and chemical properties. Some plastic materials can be more resistant to degradation from radiation than others though
  • Electron Beam Sterilisation – an ionising radiation sterilisation technology with a reduced exposure time required for sterilisation, which results in less chemical degradation

Solent Plastics strives to deliver high-quality plastic containers that achieve total customer satisfaction. Contact the plastic storage experts today on 01794 514478 and entrust your food storage to us!