Packaging Food and Presents This Holiday Season

At this time of the year, our thoughts turn to the holiday season and what we will eat during it. But both raise a common problem: packaging. Whether you give a gift, order food, or buy fresh groceries, they all come in packaging. As society shifts towards being more eco-friendly, how can we solve the problem of packaging materials?

Sustainable food packaging is packaging that is designed to be environmentally friendly, meaning it has a minimal impact on the environment throughout its entire lifecycle. It is an important issue because the production and disposal of packaging can have negative impacts on the environment, including pollution, waste, and the depletion of natural resources. According to Adam Springer of Ahold Delhaize USA, “43% of consumers feel sustainability is now ‘extremely important’ – up from 28% of consumers pre-pandemic”.

In terms of sustainable packaging practices, there are some similarities between food products and Christmas presents. For example, both types of products can benefit from the use of packaging materials that are easily recyclable, such as cardboard and paper. One of the main goals of sustainable food packaging is to reduce the amount of waste that is generated. For example, packaging that is made from a single material is typically easier to recycle than packaging that is made from multiple materials that are difficult to separate. Currently, materials that are recycled in the US consist of 66% paper, 27% glass, and 8% plastic. Even though wrapping paper sales skyrocket during the holiday season, the amount of it that is recycled does not experience such an immense rate of change.

Both types of products can also benefit from the use of materials that are renewable or recycled, such as plant-based materials, to reduce the demand for new, raw materials and the environmental impacts associated with their extraction and processing. Packaging materials that are made from plant-based materials, such as cornstarch or bamboo, are an example of renewable options that can be used in place of traditional materials like plastic or glass. Instead of having a ton of plastic food packaging for every four tons of food, we can have a ton of plant-based materials, which are much better for the planet.

In addition to reducing waste and using renewable materials, sustainable food packaging should also be designed to be as efficient as possible in terms of transportation and storage. Packaging that is lightweight and compact can help to reduce the carbon emissions associated with shipping and storage, as it requires less energy to transport and store.

Overall, the adoption of sustainable food packaging practices is essential for reducing the environmental impacts of the food industry and ensuring that we have a healthy planet for future generations. It requires a shift in the way we think about packaging and the materials we use, but the long-term benefits for the environment and for society as a whole are well worth the effort.

Sources:
https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnut.2018.00121/full
https://foodinstitute.com/focus/the-rise-of-food-packaging-sustainability/
https://thegreenhubonline.com/eco-friendly-sustainable-christmas-gift-wrapping-ideas/

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