Let’s just put it out there: I love meat. You might say, “Andy, you have to, you’re the editor of a meat and poultry processing magazine!” But it’s not that simple, really.

As readers of my magazine and viewers of my video channel know by now, I do about 90 percent of the cooking around my house, and quite frankly, it’s challenging for me to not include some sort of animal protein in my meals.

That said, I DON’T like meat packaging. Looking at it from the consumer standpoint, it’s a complete and total pain, and it’s never really obvious or clear if the stuff should be recycled or not.

Cereal boxes? Cardboard, check. Bottles of water? Recyclable plastic, check. Beer? Glass or aluminum cans, check.

Fresh meat packaging? Well … um … there’s some plastic on there, there’s sometimes some Styrofoam-ish tray, all really stained and soiled by purge. So, um, I guess that goes in the trash.

Suffice to say, the meat and poultry industry, while making solid headway in sustainability initiatives in the operations arena, has a bit of work to do in making its packaging truly sustainable.

It’s a challenge, no doubt. And it’s one that we’ve looked at recently. In our most recent issue of The National Provisioner, in fact, our packaging expert, Chip Bolton, explains what still stands in the way of truly sustainable packaging hitting the meat and poultry marketplace.

Once processors reach that level of success in its sustainability initiatives, Bill Gill, assistant vice president, Environmental Affairs, Smithfield Foods, explains how they can measure and communicate those successes to consumers.

The meat industry should be given credit where credit is due—rather than activists jumping out and saying that the beef production system is the worst greenhouse gas creator—for its environmental stewardship. But that doesn’t mean the industry can rest on its laurels, thinking it has reached the summit.

Sustainable packaging is the next plateau—and the industry should keep climbing to reach it.