INCPEN: Packaging Not To Blame For Food Waste

Monday, September 26th, 2016 | 639 Views

Misunderstandings and misinformation about packaging can negatively affect its ability to deliver sustainability benefits, the Industry Council for Research on Packaging and the Environment (INCPEN) said.

“People often regard the pre-packaging of items that can be sold loose, such as apples and tomatoes, as a demonstration of unnecessary packaging,” said INCPEN director Jane Bickerstaffe. “The reality however, is that a far higher proportion of foods sold loose are damaged and end up being wasted. There is 27 percent more waste, for example, from apples sold loose than those sold in trays and wrapping.”

The organisation is launching an initiative to educate people that packaging is part of the solution to food waste, and not part of the problem.

In developing nations, food waste can be as high as 50 percent when compared to the UK where less than 3 percent of food is wasted between farm or factory and retail depot.

A greater focus on trying to prevent food waste from happening in the first place could be more effective, rather than finding ways to deal with it after it has occurred. This is where packaging plays a part.

For this reason, INCPEN stated that calls for bans on packaging materials such as EPS were misplaced. It noted EPS was the ideal material to maintain the freshness of fish and keep it in perfect condition during its journey from sea to restaurant. EPS also had the lowest carbon footprint of any plastic type and while not easy to recycle, 21 percent of waste was recovered as energy in London.

“With an ever-increasing focus on the problem of food waste, it is vital that packaging’s ability to provide solutions is properly recognised,” concluded Ms Bickerstaffe.