Packaging industry has vital role in reducing food waste
New research showing that as much as half of the world’s food – amounting to two billion tonnes worth – is thrown away, demonstrates the vital role packaging has to play in providing a solution to the problem, according to packaging innovation expert Alan Davey, director of innovation at LINPAC Packaging (www.linpac.com).
The report ‘Global Food: Waste Not, Want Not’, published by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers today, said the waste was being caused by poor storage, strict sell-by dates, bulk offers which encourage shoppers to buy more food than they need and consumer fussiness.
According to the study, between 30% and 50% of the four billion tonnes of food produced around the world each year goes to waste.
“This report demonstrates how important it is for retailers, food manufacturers and the packaging industry to work closer together to tackle this problem,” says Davey. “It would not be wrong to say that if packaging was invented today it would be regarded as one of the greatest green technologies due to its protective and preserving qualities. Imagine a world without packaging; the manufacture, transport, distribution and consumption of virtually every consumer good would be impossible. Quality packaging can significantly reduce waste across the entire supply chain by giving food a longer shelf life and ensures food can be transported around the world safely and securely.”
LINPAC Packaging is Europe’s leading multi-material packaging manufacturer developing products for the meat and poultry, bakery, fast food, catering and fruit and vegetables sectors.
Davey says food packaging companies are working smarter than ever before to develop packaging which is lighter, more sustainable and more recyclable yet which is still fit for purpose in terms of protecting, preserving and presenting food to a high standard.
Changing global demographics, for example the increase in single person households, also had an impact on pack design, he said. Research carried out by Defra showed single-person households to be the worst offenders when it comes to food waste, throwing away 22% of the food they buy.
Such a figure led LINPAC Packaging to launch its split pack range for fresh and cooked meats. The packs, which allow contents to be divided into separate portion-size compartments, in modified atmosphere packaging (MAP), mean consumers can store food in the fridge for longer without compromising food safety.
“While food waste remains such a major problem for the environment, it is essential for all the links in the food supply chain to play their part in solving the problem. At LINPAC Packaging, we are acutely aware of our role in helping consumers minimize waste by designing innovative packaging solutions which enable them to only select the food they want to use and in maximizing the shelf life of stored products in their homes,” says Davey. “Well-designed packaging can help consumers buy the right amount of food and then keep it in the best condition for longer. LINPAC Packaging split packs are designed so that the consumer can buy a tray of four chicken fillets for example, open one side of the pack and use two of them, then put the remaining two back in the fridge in a pack which is still completely sealed, with all the properties of an unopened pack.”
The food packaging company has also teamed up with Addmaster to develop a technically-advanced range of trays and films with built-in antimicrobial technology to reduce bacteria growth on the outer packaging of fresh meat. The technology helps to reduce spoilage and increase the shelf life of food by inhibiting the growth of bacteria, moulds and yeast, as well as reduce the risk of contamination from pathogens such as E.Coli, salmonella, listeria and campylobacter.
“At LINPAC Packaging, we recognize our role in helping retailers deliver safer food products and support them and consumers minimize waste by designing new safer, innovative packaging solutions. It is essential that the products we develop also respond to changing lifestyles and consumer concerns. Food waste and sustainable packaging is very much at the top of the agenda and we are committed to developing packaging solutions which are innovative, ground-breaking and capable of addressing the challenges of the future,” says Davey.