A good way to prevent food waste

A good way to prevent food waste

Sometimes, plastic packaging is considered to have only negative environmental impact. However, plastic packaging protects food products and prevents waste. Without plastic packaging, more costly produced food would end up in landfill.

Did you know that one third of the food produced in the world for human consumption each year gets lost or wasted? On top of this, every year the production of unconsumed food involves the use of 250 billion m3 of water, occupies 30% of the world’s agricultural land, and releases 3.3 billion tonnes of climate-altering gas. (source: FAO).

Here, plastic packaging plays an important role, protecting the food and preventing food waste. Likewise, plastic packaging has very valuable features when we look at the entire food value chain from production to consumer.

Keep plastic out of the oceans but in the supermarkets
Janni Langkjær Pedersen, Sustainability Communication Manager at RPC Superfos, says:

“Plastic must be kept away from our natural environment and needs to be recycled to a much higher degree than is the case today. That is indisputable. However, we cannot disregard the very useful characteristics of plastic when it comes to preventing food waste.”

“Presumably, food wastage in the food supply chain would increase dramatically if we would give up plastic packaging as we have not yet seen any better − and more sustainable − alternatives. While excessive packaging must be avoided, we cannot ignore the fact that plastic packaging simply has outstanding features in terms of keeping foods fresher for longer and protecting them from damage. So, we need to keep plastic out of the oceans, but it is difficult to do without in the supermarket,” she adds.

Plastic prevents food waste
Plastic packaging protects products which have taken a lot of time and resources to produce. Plastic is lightweight, durable and flexible. These properties are extremely valuable when it comes to transporting food products, all the while keeping them fresh and intact. In the current debate, it is often overlooked that plastic is very important for protecting the environment by preventing food waste. Without plastic, logistics would be highly problematic.

Janni Langkjær Pedersen points out that products sold loose have been found to contribute to greater instore waste, in some cases leading to increases of 20%. In addition, without convenient plastic packaging, damage and loss would occur to goods in the retail and logistics chain. This would have a clear negative environmental impact.

“It is easy to see and understand how a carelessly discarded piece of packaging damages our countryside and waterways. But we must not forget that wasted food also leaves a very impactful blot on the landscape,” Janni Langkjær Pedersen says.

New RPC Superfos project helps to prevent food waste at home  
A recent survey conducted by the Danish Technological Institute shows that 14% of Danish household food waste stems from meal leftovers. In case leftovers are reheated, people tend to use the microwave oven, however, according to the survey results, many people do not like to re-heat leftovers because uneven heating makes it less savoury − and so the food ends up in the bin.

Now, in an attempt to alter this behaviour, RPC Superfos has contributed to the development of a new multifunctional plastic storage box which ensures a more even distribution of the microwave heat. This development project has been run together with Imerco, a Danish chain of retailers of household and home decoration products, and Danish Technological Institute. The new plastic storage box makes re-heated leftovers tastier and thereby helps to reduce food waste at household level.

All in all, the connection between plastic packaging and its capability to prevent waste of valuable food is clearly an important one for the development of our circular economy. For more information about plastic and food  waste, please read the RPC Group information sheet

Associated files

  • Sustainability matters

    Plastic is a recyclable and valuable resource and forms a...

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Janni Langkjær Pedersen
Div. Sustainability Com.
Mg., Superfos Division
Phone: +45 5911 1110

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