The battle to reduce packaging waste

According to research, the consumer perception of flexible packaging and packaging in general is negative. Packaging is not seen as part of an overall product. In some instances packaging is regarded as a waste of resources.

WRAP asked consumers what they think about food waste and packaging:

  • 50% of consumers believe that too much packaging is being used to package food products.
  • 52% of consumers believe packaging is bad for the environment.

Plastic packaging has a bad reputation due to large amounts being thrown away that cannot be recycled, reused or recovered.

Made from Naptha, a fraction of crude oil, most plastics are unsustainable. Plastics made from derivatives of fossil fuels take a long time to breakdown and we see a global problem of irresponsible waste management with packaging ending up in landfill or being dumped.

So who is responsible?

  • “Facilitating proper waste management and recycling is a government issue and one that will need to be improved…”
  • “The management of waste is the responsibility of everybody as we all produce waste. We choose to put our waste packaging in the bin or to chuck it in the street…”
  • “Packaging manufactures need to take responsibility for what they manufacture…”
  • “Retailers need to reduce the packaging used in their supply chain…”
  • “Brands and suppliers into retail need to reduce the amount of packaging they use…”

The reality is that we are all responsible as we all impact the environment by our actions, whether you supply packaging, use packaging or dispose of packaging your choice impacts the environment.

The future sees a move in the packaging industry towards more eco-friendly packaging film options but to ensure that these options are viable we must first consider what packaging films are used for:

  1. Protect products from damage
  2. Communicate what a product is, including ingredients and nutritional information
  3. Extend the shelf life of a range of products including fresh produce, meat, poultry, snacks and confectionery

Packaging plays a vital role in providing consumers with a range of products that they otherwise would not be able to enjoy. Packaging not only extends shelf life, it extends transportation time, shelf life and in the home life too. Before the evolution of packaging many products would not survive the journey to store.

Packaging reduces food waste.

The global population is growing fast. We are challenged, particularly in developing markets by food shortages. Used in the right way packaging can help maintain the passage of food around the world.

What we need to do is to take responsibility for the packaging waste that we produce, whether you manufacture it or use it, the ultimate destination of packaging depends on the end user and the facilities that they can access to dispose of packaging waste responsibly.