Sustainable Food Packaging and impact on waste – 4 minute read
Islands of plastic are plaguing the ocean waters, leaving a considerable amount of sea life without a habitat or dead due to the corrosive chemicals. Landfills are pushed to their limits, which provides an unhealthy environment for those living around them.
The leading cause of this widespread problem is the packaging used for essential food items that are not reusable and sustainable. Although many options have been explored, not much has been accomplished to curb this problem. The solution to this problem may be found in the development of innovative and convenient packaging that can be reused to stop the waste problem we are currently facing.
Waste Caused by Food Packaging
Food is consumed every day and comes in different packaging material like glass, plastic, and paper. The use of the materials may have been recognized as efficient because they can be recycled, but statistics show otherwise. The majority of products made from these materials end up in landfills, which increases the amount of waste.
Municipal solid waste collected showed that in 1960, 14,110 thousand tons of paper and paperboard containers were recycled, while 11,570 thousand tons were sent to landfills. The land-filled items were mostly those used for things such as boxed chocolates and other wrapped goods.
Regarding glass container waste in 1960, 100 thousand tons of glass were recycled, while 6,090 thousand tons were sent to the landfill. The good news is that these statistics have decreased over the years! In 2015, the reports showed that 31,200 thousand tons of paper and paperboard were recycled, while 7,010 were land-filled. Nonetheless, the problem will remain unless all material can be properly recycled instead of sent to a landfill.
On the other hand, 3,030 thousand tons of glass were recycled, and 4,890 were land-filled. However, this doesn’t bring into account the amount of waste lying on the streets and in the ocean. When factoring that in, we can see there is still much work to be done when it comes to better disposing practices.
Consumer Desire vs. Convenience and Sustainability
The preference of food consumers of using pre-packaged food and other disposable delivery options has led to thousands of tons of waste. The conflict is that the same consumers that prefer the above-mentioned packaging also don’t want to create waste.
At first consumers preferred disposable plastics because of its convenience, but later on, they realized that this form of packaging and delivery was not sustainable. So, a race for sustainable packaging began which gave birth to the birth of lighter glass to biodegradable plastics. The results were a more convenient method of using containers that are reusable and offer refunds for them to be reused again.
Some consumers have opted to buy products in jars or tins that they can use for other uses at home. For example, one can buy a product in a jar and use the container to plant a flower. Alternatively, another might buy biscuits in a tin and then later use that tin to keep some items in it safely.
Although this option seems quite inconvenient, many people see the benefits of using it. This option might be useful in the meantime while the innovations of using more advanced packaging continue to develop.
How Companies are Using Innovative Solutions
Many companies have developed solutions to combat the problem of waste. Here are two companies and their answers to this issue:
Danone (Canada) claims that they save packaging material by 2% in their relaunched Oikos and Activia Greek yogurts. The new packaging method is smaller and consists of a rigid thin wall that has lightweight lids. The yogurt cups are held together by a carton and are attached by their peel-off lids.
The materials used are much lighter than traditional yogurt packaging material. The efficiency of using thinner and lighter food packaging makes business and environmental sense because manufacturing becomes much cheaper, and it reduces the toxic waste on our planet.
This online delivery service is also working double time to reduce the amount of waste in landfills and the ocean. This company lets you select the items you want, and your items get delivered in a reusable container! Once you have consumed the products you purchased, and you return the packaging they were sent to you in, you get a refund on the packaging! Then your next order is delivered, and the cycle repeats.
After seven orders placed, you no longer have to pay for shipping. This makes a sweet difference for your pocket while promoting the importance of reusing your packaging. It is also convenient for the consumer because Loop does everything for you!
The Future of Sustainable Food Packaging
When it comes to saving the environment by changing your lifestyle habits, it is the little things that matter the most. You can take little to change the way you prefer your packaging and take careful note where that packaging ends. However, in the food packaging industry, we will continue to see some development in terms of reusable and environmentally friendly packaging solutions.
The scaling of biodegradable plastics is currently at its grassroots level, and once the idea catches on it will be very beneficial. Also, the use of lighter packaging is now on the rise and has benefits for everyone involved, the manufacturer, consumer, and nature.
Looking out for developments similar to those of Danone and Loop will encourage the usage of them, and their concept will get the opportunity to grow. Your lifestyle changes may be noticeable to your friends, and they will also adapt to sustainable ideas. The little differences you attribute to may go unnoticed at first, but over the long run, you will be glad you chose the path least traveled. Other lifestyle changes you can adapt are bringing a reusable bag when you shop to avoid the need to buy a disposable bag. You can also reduce the waste you throw out by making beautiful flower pots using some suitable food glass or plastic containers.