THE challenges and opportunities for the food industry to become more sustainable have been outlined in a new white paper.
Titled Food Packaging Versus Food Waste – Moving Towards a Circular Economy, the document, which was written by Dr Stella Despoudi of Aston Business School, provides an overview of current megatrends in the food packaging sector and the wider modern society that are driving the move towards the creation of a circular economy.
Sponsored by Ishida Europe and Aston Business School, the findings of the report suggest appropriate solutions to help organisations implement changes to create a circular economy.
Six food packaging ‘megatrends’ are identified and discussed in the white paper: initiatives for plastic reduction; sustainable food packaging; food packaging and labelling regulations; consumer trends; innovative food packaging technologies and packaging 4.0; and the cost of modern food packaging.
The report highlights the key findings and challenges in each of these trends, emphasising the complexity in many of the issues raised. For example, in the drive to reduce plastic packaging, it states it is essential to ensure that potential alternative packaging materials do not impact on food waste. Similarly, while new flexible packaging can help to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of food packaging, it details how associated machinery will need to be fully compatible with the new materials to ensure seal integrity.
The paper shows the major challenge of food waste in the supply chain, with it being estimated that between 25 to 50% of food produced is lost or wasted along the supply chain before it reaches the consumer. The document adds that for food packaging manufacturers, the challenge is to reduce the amount of packaging used while preserving and extending shelf-life through the use of materials that are sustainable.
Among the solutions put forward in the White Paper, the need for a collaborative approach – between all stakeholders and also governments and consumers – is emphasised, as well as increased consumer education and engagement
Ross Townshend, Ishida Europe’s business unit manager, said, “We are delighted to be sponsoring this White Paper on such an important topic.
“Effectively tackling food waste is essential if we are to achieve the ‘greener’ world that everyone is seeking. Equally important, understanding how we can best tackle these challenges will have a significant bearing on our own work in the design and development of the most efficient packing line equipment and integrated solutions.”