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The Power Of Packaging In Reducing Food Waste

Friday, October 29, 2021


Food waste is one of the biggest problems the world is facing in the fight against climate change, with huge quantities of waste heading to landfill every day around the globe. When food goes to landfill, it doesn’t decompose in the way that many people think it does. It becomes compacted beneath other waste and rots rather than composting, releasing methane, a harmful greenhouse gas that is considerably more potent than carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. In turn, the more food waste we produce on a global scale, the worse the climate crisis becomes.

Packaging actually plays a key role in helping to reduce food waste, with businesses keen to strike a balance between sustainability, brand image and efficiency in keeping their products fresh. Here’s why what the packaging businesses choose to do can more than simply serve as a marketing aid - it can actually help tackle the issue of food waste when used correctly.


Clarity over best before labels

One area of packaging that many food and drink businesses need to refine is labelling. In the UK, according to recent official food waste figures, we waste 4.5m tonnes of food every year that could have been eaten. One third of this waste occurs because consumers wrongly interpret the best before labels on the foods they buy, believing them to have gone off when they’re perfectly edible. If businesses can produce clearer labels that explain to customers precisely when food needs to be thrown away and when it’s safe to eat, we could cut back on food waste simply through changing the way we package our food.


Maintaining Freshness and Quality

For many businesses, packaging is a great way to market a product and stand out from competitors on the shop shelves. But packaging is more than just a way to maintain aesthetic appeal. It’s also there as a crucial way to protect the food from spoiling and being unusable by the customer, with the choice of packaging being essential to the efficiency of this. Maintaining a good shelf life is essential in tackling food waste. The quicker food goes off, the less chance customers have to use it and the faster it heads to landfill. Being able to offer resealable bags or recyclable packaging that still retains freshness are just some of the ways that businesses can blend sustainability and food waste reduction with the needs of the consumer.

Choosing the Right Size

One of the causes of food waste is consumers being unable to find food in packaging that suits their needs. A survey found that over 30% of households in the UK attributed the waste they produce to the packaging being too large, meaning they were unable to finish all of the contents before having to throw the excess away. Another reason is that the packaging makes it difficult to empty the entire container, such as with dairy products or sauces, meaning that much of the product winds up going to waste without being eaten. Providing consumers with the right type of packaging for their requirements, both in terms of sizes and usability, can help to bring down the amount of food ending up in landfill each year.


Materials that Make a Difference

So much of the food we buy comes in packaging that’s not able to be recycled or repurposed, so it ends up in landfill. But businesses have a responsibility to rethink the materials they use for their packaging in order to tackle this head-on. While consumers can opt for products that come in glass, cardboard or aluminium and steel, it’s also up to businesses to provide more of the items they sell in these types of materials, so that customers have the option of recycling them afterwards. Without businesses taking the initial steps and choosing recyclable and sustainable alternatives, customers have no choice but to throw their packaging away.

Key Takeaways

The issue of food waste extends beyond just the inconvenience of an overstuffed bin. When food goes to waste, it’s a drain on resources used to produce and transport those goods from supplier to seller to our kitchens. Producing food and ingredients uses vast amounts of fuel, fertiliser and chemicals, as well as huge quantities of water, so it’s an issue that affects more than just filling up landfills.

Both businesses and consumers have a responsibility to consider the problem of food waste.This is important both in terms of how food is packaged to prevent unnecessary waste and spoilage, but also from the perspective of only buying what we need and using what we have, to reduce how much goes in the bin.

Kafoodle can help you minimize waste and track the carbon emissions of your recipes! Contact Us for more information.

About the Author

Kafoodle Guest Blogger Annie Button is a Portsmouth based writer specializing in business, branding and career development, and has written for various online and print publications.

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