Plastic Packaging in Foods: Untangling the Waste Issues

May 2018

Amid growing anti-plastic sentiment in developed markets, pressures on food packagers, brand owners and retailers are increasingly felt to provide more sustainable packaging alternatives. Yet as ‘plastic-free’ becomes the new ‘free from’ in foods, finding truly sustainable alternatives will require looking beyond the obvious into the far-reaching food waste problem as well as packaging’s wider environmental footprint. Minimal, widely recyclable formats are to be favoured.

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Plastic packaging as a friend and a foe

Plastic is both a protection against food waste and a source of packaging waste under increasing pressure to become more sustainable.

Amid growing anti-plastic sentiment in developed markets, pressures on food packagers, brand owners and retailers are increasingly felt to provide more sustainable packaging alternatives. 

Plastic packaging is here to stay

Plastic packaging is here to stay, yet its benefits need to be better understood and its design and usage to be better adapted to a circular economy model.

Yet as ‘Plastic-free’ becomes the new Free From in foods, finding truly sustainable alternatives will require to look beyond the obvious into the far-reaching food waste problem as well as packaging’s wider environmental footprint.

Minimal, widely recyclable formats are to be favoured.

Plastic Packaging in Foods: Untangling the Waste IssuES

Scope
Quantifying waste : food vs plastic
Food waste most alarming in Asia, mature regions weigh in the balance
Plastic’s role in protecting and preserving foods is evident
Plastic packaging used in foods to see tougher regulation
‘Plastic-free’ is the new buzzword: Iceland Foods in the UK
‘Plastic-free’ is the new buzzword: Ekoplaza in the Netherlands
Plastic only part of the packaging waste problem…
… but 78% of global retail food packaging is plastic-based*
Plastics in foods: wide-reaching, diverse and not all obvious
Impact of plastic-based packaging in foods: a double-edged sword
Plastic is here to stay, but alternatives to fossil fuel varieties to rise
Tackling both waste issues: Full Cycle Bioplastics in the US
Tackling both waste issues: Nu in Canada
Food and plastic packaging waste: taking the viable route
Data parameters, report definitions and other notes
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