The term “sustainable packaging” covers any materials or packing processes which attempt to prevent the increase of waste products destined for landfill sites. Sustainability in packaging involves eco-friendly materials which can be recycled or which are biodegradable and will break down and return to nature once they are no longer required.
Companies providing ecologically-friendly sustainable packaging options not only help the environment but can also capitalise on the market by aligning their brands with today’s green wave of eco-friendly customers.
Sustainable packaging machines
Energy-efficient packaging machines are also an important element of the sustainable packaging movement. Machines which use less electricity and water in the packaging process go a long way to reducing a company’s impact on the environment.
Sustainable packaging offers the same functional aspects as regular packaging but attempts to reduce any environmental impact. Traditionally, when speaking about sustainable packaging, we are referring to the use of materials to create biodegradable packaging or even compostable packaging options. However, sustainable packaging can also apply to other options like flexible packaging which greatly reduces the amount of waste packaging destined for landfills.
Sustainable packaging is created using ecologically safe methods, this means that during the production process no toxic substances are created, and afterwards, the packaging itself can be disposed of in an environmentally-friendly way.
Biodegradable and compostable packaging
With consumer interest in organic foods and farming riding high, some companies are now going the extra mile and offering these foods in more environment-friendly packaging. Sainsbury's and Marks & Spencer, for example, have decided to start selling some of their fresh organic produce and a selection of ready meals in maize-based compostable packaging in the future.
Many companies in the food packaging industry are now switching on to the idea of biodegradable materials and even compostable packaging. Biodegradable packaging is required to break down when disposed of, but there is no stipulation as to the amount time in which this must happen. Compostable packaging on the other hand, must disintegrate into natural elements in a compost environment, leaving no toxicity in the soil within ninety days.
Flexible packaging utilises bags and pouches, or any other non-rigid packaging structures. By combining the best qualities of paper, aluminium, plastic and film, flexible packaging uses fewer raw materials while still providing reliable protection for food products. Flexible packaging is a particularly effective means of extending shelf life. Not only does it provide effective packaging at point of sale but also provides customers with a convenient resealable package to use later, removing the need for other containers or disposable bags to preserve the remaining food.
Flexible packaging offers a variety of packaging options to suit all varieties of products and even brings the added advantage of being extremely easy to print on it and enhance company branding.
Though not necessarily biodegradable, flexible packaging does contribute to reducing the quantity of waste destined to find its way to landfill sites due to its non-rigid and therefore easily foldable structure. And of course, lighter weight packaging requires less energy to transport and deliver, saving both money and reducing the carbon footprint of the vehicles required to transport it
Thanks to advances and innovations in food packaging, flexible packaging now requires fewer resources. Modern techniques mean flexible packaging solutions require less water and energy to produce, and the process also produces less greenhouse gas emissions and volatile organic compounds.
The PPMA Total Show 2019 will be held at NEC Birmingham, UK from 1 to 3 October 2018, where you can see the latest developments in the world of food packaging.