Packaging is not only becoming smarter, but also more sustainable. “You see the trend towards sustainability and a circular economy everywhere. This of course impacts the world of food packaging significantly”, says Tim van Caelenberg, Packaging Development Manager at Puratos. “Considering the reduction of waste streams is a concern that Puratos also shares. Many initiatives are being taken throughout the company to reduce the amount of packaging waste, both within our production environment and with our clients.”
Van Caelenberg shares three tips to improve the environmental footprint of packed foodstuff.
“It sounds very obvious: if you want to produce more sustainable products, you should not lose sight of using fewer packaging materials. While safeguarding product quality! The irrational use of less packaging can lead to loss of product quality because of shorter shelf-life or product damage during transportation and use by the customer or consumer. It’s therefore important to keep monitoring and validating the complete process, from farm to fork.”
Re-use and recycling of packaging
There is increasing focus on the life-cycle of packaging and the impact on the environment. What happens to the packaging after being emptied? Are the different packaging layers (f.i. paper layers and plastic layers) connected in such a way that separation of both runs smoothly during the recycling process? Which packaging materials are the best choice when it comes to sustainability and recycling? The study of these types of properties is done in a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of a packaging-product combination. “Preferably choose materials that can be easily reused or are recyclable. Don’t just look at the primary packaging around the product, but also at the secondary and even tertiary packaging. There are many possibilities in sustainable cardboard, sustainable containers and environmentally friendly transport. An LCA can be of great help in gaining insight into possible improvements.”
Reduce food waste
A package must be easy to move from point A to point B, easy to open for the end-user and, moreover, the product should be easy to be removed, preferably whole. “In terms of the latter, there is still much to be gained in terms of sustainability. It’s important that when developing new packaging or a new packaging concept, we don’t only look at suitable packaging materials, but also at the combination of foodstuff and packaging. A product must be easy to remove, whole, from the packaging so that there is no, or little, food waste. Also this is taking into account by a LCA-study. At Puratos we are replacing rigid plastic packaging with flexible variants. On the one hand, this results in lighter packaging and, on the other hand, we anticipate the importance of ease of use of the packaging. With new, easy-to-open prototypes we go to the customer at an early stage to test them together and see where improvements are possible and whether the product can be removed easily and completely from the packaging. This appears to be a very efficient strategy to grow towards more sustainable packaging and products.”
Staying up to date
Puratos is continually in search of new packaging developments and opportunities to improve existing concepts. “We keep in close contact with suppliers, packaging centres, laboratories and universities specialised in packaging research, in order to further extend our network within the packaging field. We are always open to collaborations with interesting partners. And when our clients have packaging-related questions, we also try to help them with our expertise or bring them into contact with partners within our network. These principles represent ‘the Power of Packaging’ within Puratos.”
Looking for ways to make your packaging more sustainable? Don’t hesitate to contact your Puratos representative. We are happy to advise you or to bring you into contact with our packaging partners.
You might also be interested in our article about active and intelligent packaging or eating in style on-the-go.