How seriously do Americans waste material

Waste versus pollution

Just as the chef prepares his dishes, the retail sector contributes to the experience of food products with its packaging. When developing new products, it's not just about the product; the packaging is immediately an integral part of the new concept. Increasingly higher demands are placed on packaging: not only in terms of its visual effect, protective and preservation function or its information content, but also in terms of its ecological impact. In a series of articles on new food trends, we take a close look at the effects of food trends on packaging trends. Part 1 is about sustainability.

Consumers are eating more consciously and avoiding waste is becoming more important to them. Packaging plays an important role in this food trend. Which materials do you choose? What makes products last longer? But also: How does shelf life get along with as little waste as possible? One is often at odds with the other.

Looking for suitable, sustainable materials

“We strive for our packaging to be suitable for reuse or recycling within a decade”. Large food companies such as Nestlé, Unilever and Coca Cola committed to this ambitious goal in 2018. As a result, the packaging industry is already quickly looking for alternatives to environmentally harmful packaging materials.

There is already great progress in the development of bio-based and biodegradable plastics. In addition, more and more recyclable materials are used. In the use of such materials, the non-food industry in particular is making headway. In the food industry, of course, the question always arises as to whether the new materials are also suitable for contact with food. Intensive research is currently being carried out on this. Well-considered decisions are particularly important when it comes to the packaging of fresh products in order to ensure safety and quality.

Food safety with recycled materials

Wim van Winkel is Packaging Engineer at Euroma: ‘When using recycled materials for food products, food safety must be absolutely guaranteed. Glass packaging, for example, is made up of cullet for 60%. The recycled material is heated to 1200 degrees. In addition, glass is impermeable to pollutants and bacteria. This ensures the food safety of this material. This is not yet clear for other recycled plastics. "

Enable waste separation

The packaging industry takes its task of developing suitable recyclable or compostable materials very seriously. But not only the production of such materials is a challenge. The consumer and his motivation to separate waste and dispose of it cleanly is crucial for the success of recyclable packaging materials. Both the state and the food companies could positively influence consumer behavior by encouraging deposit packaging, for example.

Mono material use

Wim von Winkel: ‘In order to make waste separation and collection easier, we are currently taking a critical look at our range of packaging. Many packaging consists of different materials. Switching to mono materials would make it much easier for consumers to dispose of waste separately. We are currently working on the development of a vessel made of fully recyclable plastic that will replace a vessel made of three different materials. ‘

Save material

Separating waste is one thing. The best thing would be to reduce the waste stream as much as possible. We are therefore striving to develop processes and materials that allow the minimal use of packaging materials.

Smart solutions for reducing waste

Wim von Winkel: ‘In the retail packaging sector, packaging materials are being used more and more consciously. Although the packaging market for business-to-business and food service is less dynamic than the business-to-consumer packaging market, efforts are also being made in the retail market to be more sustainable. For example, sauces for the catering industry are no longer just packaged in buckets, but also in bag-in boxes or bag-in containers. A bucket weighs around 400 grams, the plastic bag only 2 to 120 grams: a significant reduction in plastic waste.

Less food waste

It's a hot topic and we hear it almost every day: We're wasting way too much food right now. That should change. One of the causes of waste is excessive quantities in a package. That is why food products are now (often) also offered in smaller portions.

Smaller portions

Wim von Winkel: ‘There are often large spice containers in the spice compartment in the supermarket. Often, however, customers only need very small quantities, for example because they want to try out a recipe. Large quantities are then superfluous and undesirable because there is a good chance that they will eventually end up in the trash. That is why Euroma is developing portion packaging and we recently introduced a smaller format bottle. A small contribution to the fight against food waste. ’

Tubes that leak better

Many consumers are annoyed about throwing food away because it can no longer be removed from the packaging. One example are tubes that cannot be completely emptied. Finding a solution for this contributes to a positive and sustainable image. For example, an American university developed a tube with a special coating (“LiquiGlide”), with which ketchup, for example, runs much better out of the tube. It is not yet known when the tubes will be put into production.

Fresh longer

Another response from the packaging industry to food waste is smart innovations that help food stay fresher longer. Thanks to safe transport, less food is lost and less food is thrown away thanks to the longer shelf life. This is how you, as a food producer, make a contribution against food waste.

A gas mixture of oxygen and carbon dioxide added to meat, vegetables and fruits prevents spoilage and putrefaction. There is already meat packaging with a kind of tunnel to a leak container, which means that meat does not come into contact with moisture and lasts longer.
The obviously contradictory aspect of shelf-life-extending measures is that they lead to more

Lead packing material. There has been a lot of criticism that vegetables and fruits are almost always offered in plastic packaging. However, it is a matter of weighing up what is most effective: avoiding waste at the beginning of the food chain, where bacteria can attack food, or at the end, when people throw away too much.

Encourage reuse
The discussion about food waste arises from the need to be more sustainable with our planet. With reusable packaging, brands can make an important contribution to a cleaner environment.

Smaller portions

Wim van Winkel: ‘One example of stimulating reuse is the packaging from Euromas consumer brand. The 100% pure spices, herbs and melanges are in trendy tins, glasses and Ceramic containers packed up. Many customers collect them and place them in their kitchens. The attractive packaging is not only for sale, but also for reusability. We also encourage this with labels that are easy to remove, 'peelable' labels. If the consumer no longer wants to use the packaging, it is still recyclable. The jars go in the glass container, the cans and metal lids in the plastic and metal container. The ceramic containers can be reused as wax light containers or flower pots.

More interesting facts about packaging

Many other trends also play a role in the packaging industry. Consumers want to be surprised and packaging makes a contribution to this. In addition, many innovations increase usability. You can read more about this in Part 2 of these articles.

Are you looking for even more inspiration or do you have questions about the packaging of your product? Euroma has a wide range and is happy to think along with you. For more information or packaging solutions, please contact our Marketing & Innovation Manager, Ms. Pernella Geluk.

Would you like to optimize an existing product or its packaging, or are you looking for inspiration for product innovations?

Contact Ms. Pernella Geluk for an inspiration workshop!