Ah, Thanksgiving….a day for spending time with family and friends, giving thanks and eating way too much food. At the original Thanksgiving, pilgrims walked into the woods to get their turkey and fixings while today we “hunt” our meals in the grocery aisles. That being said, have you ever thought about the role which petrochemicals play in the modern day Thanksgiving?

Before the meal most of us go to the grocery store to get everything we need for the big dinner. Many of the products we purchase are wrapped in plastics made from petrochemicals (on a side note: did you know that the #1 application of plastics made from petrochemicals is for packaging?) For example, the packaging wrapped around the turkey is made from ethylene vinyl acetate (or EVA), which is made from the petrochemicals ethylene and vinyl acetate. The plastic protects the turkey from coming into contact with harmful bacteria and keeps the turkey’s juices from contaminating other foods in your shopping cart or refrigerator.

Many other food products, such as vegetables, gravy, jellied cranberry sauce and other delicious Thanksgiving treats, are packaged in petrochemical based materials such as polyethylene (made from the petrochemical ethylene) or polypropylene (made from the petrochemical propylene). The materials provide a range of benefits including:

• Helping to extend food freshness
• Reducing packaging gauge
• Improving organoleptic properties
• Enhancing barrier properties
• Providing product protection

In your kitchen you’ll find cutting boards made from polyethylene, mixing bowls made from polypropylene, and if you are throwing a large Thanksgiving event, you may use plastic utensils or plates made from polystyrene (made from the petrochemical styrene) to minimize clean-up.

After the meal is over, what will you do with all of those leftovers? Its petrochemical-based products to the rescue again! Whether you put the food in a reusable container, freezer bag or plastic wrap, all of these products are made thanks to petrochemicals.

Last but not least, don’t forget the vegetarian in the family. When you are ready to break the wishbone consider the “Lucky Break Wishbone” (made from petrochemicals) so everyone can participate in the fun. If you are not familiar with this tradition, two people each take one end of the turkey’s wishbone, make a wish, and pull. Whoever ends up with the larger part of the bone gets their wish.

Petrochemical-based products help us keep those Thanksgiving traditions alive.

Melissa Hockstad

Posted by Melissa Hockstad

Melissa Hockstad is the former Vice President of Petrochemicals for AFPM. To learn more about AFPM, visit AFPM.org.