Food Packaging: Friend or Foe?
Packaging plays an important role in the safe transport of goods, brand promotion and the storage of goods. It is often an essential part of the production line to consumption process. Packaging keeps related goods together, ensures quality control and provides the consumer with valuable information on how best to use the product.
Every product is transported, stored and sold in some form of packaging. In many cases, products are contained within more than one type of packaging. This can be essential for maintaining the quality of the item, but not in every case. With a growing awareness of our environmental impact, many companies have been criticised for using excessive packaging, especially when it comes to food packaging.
Does Packaging Deserve Bad Press?
The reality is that whilst the retail industry can make improvements, packaging plays a crucial role in reducing food waste. Whilst 10.8million tonnes of CO2 emissions do result from food packaging each year, this is overshadowed by the 166million tonnes caused by food waste.
The majority of food packaging significantly increases the shelf life of food products. Without packaging food would deteriorate more quickly and be at greater risk of damage and contamination. This doesn’t mean that a change in food packaging materials couldn’t offer a more sustainable solution that doesn’t compromise the benefits. Is there a viable alternative to plastic?
Love Food Hate Waste
Love Food Hate Waste is a UK organisation, originally set up by Emma Marsh. The campaign aimed to raise awareness on food waste and provide information that would reduce the problem.
Emma was shocked to discover that 7million tonnes (19%) of food and drink are thrown away every year. Of this 4.4million tonnes could have been eaten and 2.6million tonnes were not consumed by the Use By Date. This wasted food costs the average UK household £270 a year, a figure that few families can afford.
Love Food Hate Waste encourages us to become more aware of what we are buying, so we are less likely to buy more than we need. It raises awareness of food storage and suggests that where possible we keep products in their original packaging to ensure our goods fresher for longer. It also provides recipe suggestions for using up left overs, so we get the most from every item we purchase.
If you do buy a product that seems to be held within an excessive amount of packaging, or you feel there is an alternative packaging material that could reduce the environmental impact, let the company know. Consumer power can have a great influence on a company’s decisions and your opinion could be a catalyst for change.