Flexible packaging has added functionality to the way we receive, store, eat and dispose of our food daily. Have you ever really taken a minute to think about how flexible packaging has changed the world that we live in?
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations published a study showing that roughly one-third of food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted globally, which totals about 1.3 billion tons per year. Food is lost or wasted throughout the supply chain, from initial agricultural production down to household consumption.
A lot of the food that gets distributed around the world never makes it onto a plate. Often, food gets to the supermarket shelves, but is not bought quickly enough, and thus passes its use-by date. All this waste is often due to poor packaging.
Using food packaging effectively, means that more food reaches its destination and can stay on shelves longer. Flexible packaging can extend shelf life significantly. Flexible packaging often incorporates barrier material that blocks harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun, moisture, grease, contamination and oxygen. Using flexible packaging on meat gives it a much longer shelf life – up to 9 days longer. It can extend the shelf life of provolone cheese by as much as 90 days!
Many people believe that flexible packaging is a major environmental problem. In fact, ten times more resources – materials, energy, water – are used to make and distribute food than are used to make the packaging to protect it. Furthermore, flexible packaging has less impact on the environment than spoiled food and malnourishment.
Food waste emits tons of carbon dioxide into the earth’s atmosphere. In fact, this has such a detrimental effect on the environment that it is better to package food correctly and increase the demand for better recycle efforts, than let food go to waste.
Further benefits of flexible packaging include:
- Extends shelf life of food
- Easy storage
- Reusable - features such as zip locks, spouts, and resealable seals make usage more convenient
- Flexible, but durable
- Requires fewer trucks for transportation, using less fuel and creating less emissions
- Consumes less energy and fewer natural resources
In addition, some flexible packaging can be heated, frozen, resealed and is easily printed, giving the material an edge over other types of material in many industries. No other packaging option offers so many benefits. These are the ways that flexible packaging is helping to save our food – and ultimately the world that we live in.