Thursday, April 4, 2013

Made in New Zealand... plastic!

This week I'm taking a brief break from Crown Lynn to introduce you to some of my lovely collection of  New Zealand made plastic kitchen jars, all picked up for a few cents in op shops.  This is my favourite:
It's about 9 cm tall, and on the base it is marked Premier Pl.  Premier Plastics is still operating in Auckland, still making containers of various sorts. I also have a  brown jar in the same gingham pattern, I am not sure if there are other colours.

There were several NZ manufacturers of plastic jars as far back as the 1970s and 1980s. Each jar was moulded, then screen printed individually on hand-operated semi-automatic machines. There are quite a few different brand marks on the base of these jars. This spotted treasure is marked  Aunty Auckland New Zealand. It is tall, at 23 cm, and normally holds my couscous.
My rolled oats jar is also tall, made by Smiths Plastics which operated out of Newmarket. It is not marked on the base. The red and white blips are soap bubbles I believe. Smiths Plastics manufactured for Service Wholesale which were also based in Newmarket.
Another manufacturer was Nuon Industries; an upper case NUON is imprinted on the base of this jar with orange flowers. You may be able to see that the plastic has darkened slightly, a sign that it will not last for too many more years. Light very slowly but surely denatures the plastic, making it brittle.
And to finish, here is one more classic: its barrel shape is the same as the glass coffee jars of the same era. This jar, made by Premier Plastics, appears with prints in various other colours and styles.
This is only a small selection of the range of NZ made kitchen jars. They came in all shapes and sizes, including a square version in various heights. They are not perfect - the screw tops are not airtight, and after many years of use the plastic is inclined to split around the top where the lids screw on.  They have no particular value at present, but they are a New Zealand product - a memory of a bygone age before so much manufacturing got moved to China.

Despite the offshore competition, not all is doom and gloom in the plastics industry. Several of the 1970s-1980s manufacturers still survive, though most are under new names and of course they're making different products. One highlight is Systema, a New Zealand company making a wide range of plastic containers and drink bottles which you will have seen in many shops and supermarkets. Often the name of the manufacturer and the country of origin is marked on the base or on the label. Check before you buy, and...
Buy New Zealand made!
Take care

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