Plastic Packaging represents almost 39% of the European plastics market and is therefore an integral part of our daily lives as a consumer. It is critical that we understand why plastic packaging is an indispensable protection for food products. Plastic Packaging is essential for processing, storing, transporting, protecting and preserving products. It also means more with less: less waste, less energy, less resources used and reduced costs.
Advantages of Plastic Packaging
Re-closable packs such as plastic Stand Up Pouches help to keep food that has been opened in peak condition for longer. Once the product is finished the Stand Up Pouch can then be reused to store other items, making it a multiple use pack. Ultimately, multiuse packaging which is more effective and efficient means there is less waste of resources on the impact on the environment is reduced.
Flexible packaging reduces food waste, extending shelf life by days. For example, the shelf life for beef can be extended by 5 days or even longer when using the most advanced plastic packaging solutions and only 1.5 grams of wrapping plastic can keep a cucumber fresh for 14 days. Flexible packaging is also far more lightweight reducing transportation and storage costs. *2
EXTEND SHELF LIFE
Recent technological advancements in plastic packaging films means food has a significantly longer shelf life. The high barrier properties of flexible packaging films are crucial to maintain exceptional product quality, texture, freshness and nutrients. Film barrier properties for light, oxygen, water, C02 and modified atmosphere packaging all help to fight the war on food wastage.
Using the Waste-to-Energy process for recycling means we can turn waste in to clean energy. About 60% of the Waste-to-Energy plants across Europe provide both electricity and heat.*3
We increasingly live in a world where ‘convenience’ is a must. Flexible Packaging options help to fulfil this challenge because they are lightweight, physically adaptable, effective and materially efficient. Market demand for convenience gives rise to another issue. Specialised food and medications, for instance, often require more sophisticated packaging to protect quality. It is important that consumers begin to appreciate the real and tangible environmental benefits that appropriate packaging delivers. European households waste 71 million tonnes of food each year at a cost of €90 billion. To put this in to a climate change context, eliminating food waste in the UK alone would have the same impact on carbon emissions as taking one in five cars off the road. *5
Ultimately the more effective and efficient packaging is results in less wastage of resources and the impact on the environment is reduced, whilst providing economic and social benefits. *5
By protecting and presenting the product before and during use to maximise shelf life preventing it becoming waste. Flexible Packaging does this by providing better barrier protection and making it available in convenient ‘portions’, protecting the remaining product and reducing the likelihood that it gets wasted. *5
By ensuring very high product to pack ratios this means that the least amount of packaging material (by weight) is needed to provide optimal protection and functionality for a given amount of product. *5
Undoubtedly the Reduction, Reuse and Recycling of waste is the top priority in waste management. However as ‘zero waste’ is not realistic now or in the coming years, the most efficient use of resources must be taken in to account.
Plastic Packaging Solutions
Plastic packaging is lighter, more resistant, more flexible, safer, more hygienic and more innovative than any other material.
If food was packed using other material than plastics, the related energy consumption would double and greenhouse gas emissions would nearly triple. This would also be accompanied by a 360% increase in the weight of the packaging. *3
*Source: Flexible Packaging Europe: Sustainability of Flexible Packaging www.flexpack-europe.org
*1 Eswet Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Waste-to-Energy
*2 Flexible Packaging Technology Issue 3 / 2017 Covering the Entire Flexible Packaging Value Chain
*3 Flexible Packaging Europe: Sustainability of Flexible Packaging www.flexpack-europe.org