Canadian Packaging

New study details packaging’s role in reducing food waste

Perceptions about packaging obscuring its potential as a key solution to food waste crisis.


January 24, 2018
by Canadian Packaging staff

ST. PAUL, Minn.—While many perceive packaging as an environmental challenge, a new study released on January 23, 2018 explores packaging’s potential to help reduce the problem of food waste in America.

In AMERIPEN’s new report “Quantifying the Value of Packaging as a Strategy to Prevent Food Waste in America,” the association delves deeper into the potential ways packaging can reduce food waste in America and notes where further investment, research and policy must integrate to realize this value.

In the past 50 years, the amount of food waste in America has doubled. Americans now waste almost 10 times more food than those in less developed nations and almost one-third more than those in developed nations, costing over US$200 billion each year. Food waste is the largest single material in landfills across the U.S. and is a key contributor to global greenhouse gases.

By analyzing global data, AMERIPEN uncovered a surprising correlation between the foods with the highest percentage of wastage and those with the least amount of packaging. National-level data reinforced the link between packaging and food waste by demonstrating that the regions with the highest rates of food waste also have the least amount of packaged foods. Yet consumers frequently cite packaging over food waste as a top environmental concern, despite data suggesting otherwise.

While others have touted packaging as a cost-effective prevention strategy towards food waste, most have argued for further investment into emerging packaging technologies.

AMERIPEN’s study suggests instead that simple optimization strategies to reduce damage and address consumer shifts in purchasing may be equally effective and more cost-efficient in the fight against waste.

“Packaging can offer significant value in the fight against food waste but to achieve it we must first start to understand the consumers’ needs, use and perceptions of packaging. The AMERIPEN study points out a number of areas where disconnects between the packaging industry, consumer perceptions and governmental policy exist,” says Kyla Fisher, the program manager for AMERIPEN and the project lead for the study. “To achieve success, we need to find ways to better collaborate and integrate data across the sectors. This means more research into consumers’ use of packaging in the home and integrated policy approaches linking food waste with packaging recovery efforts.”

She adds: “Packaging’s potential for reducing food waste is overlooked both in the investment and policy communities.

“This needs to be addressed in order to leverage a key strategy in the fight against food waste.”

For full details and a copy of the report, visit www.ameripen.org.

About AMERIPEN
AMERIPEN’s mission is to lead the packaging industry through advocacy based on science, and enhance understanding of the role packaging plays in a more sustainable society, economy, and environment. Among the organization’s key initiatives are to advocate for effective policies, to align key stakeholders across the value chain, to define the role of packaging in a circular economy, to enable science-based decision making, to foster a responsible supply chain, to leverage lifecycle thinking to ensure sustainable materials management and to promote the value of packaging. For more information, visit the AMERIPEN website at www.ameripen.org.

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