Industry News & Insights

09 Jun 2024

Innovations Revolutionizing Sustainability in Food Packaging

Innovations Revolutionizing Sustainability in Food Packaging

For the longest time, food packaging has been treated as simply a necessary evil, nothing more than a means to contain and transport food products. But today, food packaging can be so much more. Evolutions in the sustainable food packaging space mean that it can now be not just compostable, but even edible. Smart packaging solutions can also monitor and even communicate to us exactly how long the food will stay fresh based on factors such as temperature and humidity. 

Recyclable packaging materials are also in high demand as consumers expect more environmentally aware packaging and products from the businesses that they shop at. These materials are typically made from starches, cellulose, or plant fibers and naturally break down over time — they can also be composted rather than added to landfill. This not only reduces waste overall but can also enrich the soil, creating a closed-loop sustainability system. 

Edible packaging takes sustainability to an entirely new level, where meals can be packaged in a tasty wrapper that adds to the dining experience. Once the meal is finished, there is no waste, as the packaging forms part of the meal. Incorporating advanced technology into packaging creates smart packaging that can monitor the environment and measure important factors such as temperature and humidity and — in some cases — the presence of harmful bacteria, which can spoil food.

Embracing sustainability in the food manufacturing industry

What is sustainability in food manufacturing and why is it important in the food industry? Sustainability in food manufacturing means using resources, methods, and processes that will help to minimize any negative impact on the environment. Sustainable food manufacturing can mitigate environmental damage by reducing waste in landfills, overall pollution, and a business’s carbon footprint. This type of food production is also important to win and retain customers. Customers today are aware of the environmental impact of their buying choices, so if you want to prosper in the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) industry, you need to address the sustainability question in a way that satisfies modern consumers.

Cutting-edge technologies for recyclable food packaging

The future of food packaging has several exciting trends on the horizon. For example, smart packaging will soon be able to communicate with your smartphone and provide real-time information about the freshness of the food and the expiration date based on the information monitored. Other breakthrough solutions include:

Breaking barriers: recyclable materials for sustainable packaging

What does recyclable food packaging mean and how is this different from traditional food packaging in terms of the material’s environmental impact? Traditional food packaging involves the use of plastics and other single-use materials which end up in landfill sites and take centuries to decompose — the very opposite of sustainable. 

Around 45% of the waste discarded in landfill sites in the United States comes from foods and the packaging or containers used to supply food. Whereas, recyclable food packaging designed for sustainability will use renewable materials, such as plant-based plastics and renewable paperboard, as well as compostable materials like paper. Recyclable packaging materials now being used for food packaging include bioplastics, paper, cardboard, edible packaging, mushroom packaging, cellulose-based materials, pulp trays, and bagasse. These materials are made from renewable plant resources such as sugar cane, cornstarch, agricultural waste, seaweed, plant fibers, and wood pulp. However, using sustainable materials for food packaging alone is no guarantee of sustainability. In order to be fully sustainable, these materials need to be recycled properly.

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