We shared in our last post that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that more food reaches landfills and incinerators than any other single material in our everyday trash, constituting 22 percent of discarded municipal solid waste.1
A 2015 survey2 by TNS Global that explored public opinions toward food waste and packaging found that 76% said they throw away leftovers at least once a month, while 53% throw away leftovers every week. And 51% of respondents say they throw away food we bought but never used.
One of the key challenges to sustainable food consumption is packaging; packaging is an essential element of addressing food waste and loss reduction by preserving food quality during storage, preventing food safety concerns, and extending food shelf-life.
Packaging should be considered a value-added feature to cost rather than an economic and environmental burden.
Municipalities, government, non-profits, and FMCG (fast-moving consumer goods) industry-leading retailers have banded together through efforts to responsibly source, communicate, and educate one another and consumers on how to choose good products in packaging that is also good for the environment.
Figure 1 American Chemistry Council
Understanding both the distribution process and food production variables underscores the value of packaging, as most food travels from the field, to a storage facility, is then processed, packaged, transported, distributed, and then marketed before being purchased and consumed.
While the primary function of packaging is to protect fresh produce so that it travels through the distribution stream safely, packaging designers must consider food protection properties, energy, material costs, heightened social and environmental consciousness, government regulations, as well as disposal processes.
For more information, contact your team at Fox Packaging and Fox Solutions to discuss your current packaging program and automation solutions to help decrease food waste in your program.