Monday, December 26th, 2011
No matter how you celebrate the year-ending holidays, plastic products will be involved. Whether it’s the tinsel, the funny hats for New Year’s Eve (watch out for camera phones), or the high-tech electronic gadgets you give or receive, much of what you’re dealing with will be made of plastics, ranging from simple parts to highly engineered systems.
We could mention that it’s impossible to do much of anything these days without plastics in a key supporting role, but instead let’s look at two very different ways that polymers make the holiday season more fun, and even tastier.
A thank-you to Anne Clark, the VP for administration at SPI: The Plastics
Industry Trade Association, for reminding us how plastics make it easier to have a delicious roast turkey gracing your holiday table. For the recent Thanksgiving’s holiday, she decided to roast a large turkey in a food-safe plastic oven bag for the first time.
She found that using the plastic oven bag reduced cooking time by an hour and eliminated the need to use the oven’s self-cleaning feature – two nice energy savers. The plastic oven bag also made it easier to transport the cooked bird to the house where it was served, and keep it warm. Most important, the roasted turkey looked great and tasted delicious.
The food-safe oven bags sold separately in supermarkets are strong, yet a meat thermometer inserted through the bag will tell you when roasting is done and the meat is still juicy. The bags work equally well with other meats.
Besides the joys of the dining table, many people consider their winter holidays incomplete if they don’t spend some quality time on ice skates. Thanks to the versatility of plastics you can enjoy your holiday skating even if you are wintering in Honolulu or Redwood City, California, a bit south of San Francisco. During this year’s holiday season, Redwood City residents are gliding across a 4000-square-foot skating rink in the town’s Courthouse Square. The rink’s surface, however, is a lubricated plastic material, not ice.
For skating, real ice must be kept at about 25ºF. Since daytime high temperatures in Redwood City around Christmas and New Year time are often above 60ºF, the energy bill for keeping the ice frozen would have broken the rink’s operating budget, so it was plastics to the rescue. Balmy temperatures present no problems or additional cost when using the plastic skating surface supplied by Artificial Ice Events.
The company, which was founded by a competitive speed skater, describes the surface as being like a “solid piece of countertop.” For easy gliding, the surface is periodically sprayed with silicone-based lubricant. Skaters use normal metal-bladed figure or hockey skates and employ the same technique as they would on real ice. Veteran skaters report that the “feel” is almost identical to gliding on frozen water, and it certainly looks that way.
Happy Holidays! And don’t forget the plastic.