Food: Packaging Against Waste
Food packaging today is so much more than just protecting the individual product. It is true that the most important function, from the moment of packaging through transport, storage, and retail, is to ensure that the contents arrive in private households in one piece. But design and material also have a large influence on buying decisions because more and more people want food that comes in more sustainable packaging.
Without any packaging, however, most foods cannot be transported, stored, or sold, and in their unpackaged state, they would prematurely spoil. The protective wrapping keeps harmful influences like light, oxygen, or humidity away and prevents soiling or damage. An extended shelf-life is a meaningful contribution to reducing food waste.
Along the entire value creation chain, globally more than 930 billion tons of food are thrown away every year. This figure comes from the last report by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The Swiss society Food Waste even goes so far as to say that on average, a third of all food is lost or goes to waste on the way from the field to the plate. It is therefore part of the UN Agenda 2030 to cut the worldwide waste of food per capita in half until 2030. The authors of the Food Waste Index Report 2021 also assume that eight to ten percent of global greenhouse gas emissions stem from food which is not consumed. Packaging can help to curb this wastefulness.
Following the “Sustainable Development Goals” of the United Nations is also the SAVE FOOD Initiative, which was founded in 2011 by Messe Düsseldorf, the FAO and interpack. Their goal is to create public awareness for the issue and to develop counter strategies and solutions in cooperation with politics, society and industry. A special focus is placed on innovations from the packaging industry. Therefore, a current research project by SAVE FOOD is looking for answers to the question how biodegradable food packaging could be made from food waste or from by-products of food production.
Doris Bünnagel has been working for German packaging media for over 20 years after studying natural sciences at the University of Cologne and training as a journalist at the Institute of German Business. Since the end of 2019, she has been working as a freelance editor at packaging journal (ella Verlag & Medien). Her favorite topics: environmentally friendly packaging materials, exciting automation solutions and the ideas of young packaging developers.