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Plastic packaging is winning the war on food waste

2 commentsBy Brian Porter , 17-Jan-2014
Last updated on 17-Jan-2014 at 11:32 GMT

Brian Porter
Brian Porter

‘Think about your recent excursion to the grocery store and the changes in every aisle. Fresh chicken in vacuum-sealed plastic pouches. Pasta packaged in flexible film. And that jelly jar? It’s not a jar anymore. It’s a plastic squeeze bottle.

Sure, plastic packaging is increasingly popular because it’s lightweight, cost-efficient, and does a great job protecting and preserving food. But did you know that plastic packaging is also a powerful guardian in the battle against food waste? More and more packaging professionals are choosing plastic food packaging to extend shelf life and prevent waste. It’s a trend we’ve seen at Ernest Packaging and discussed widely at Plastic Packaging Perspectives .

Innovations in plastic resin blends and plastic packaging design are extending shelf life for a variety of foods. They’re right-sizing portions and preserving freshness for much longer periods of time.

In a world where one-third of food produced goes to waste , every one pound of plastic can prevent 1.7 pounds of waste. Consider the cucumber. Wrapped in flexible film, it’ll lose only 1.5% of its weight over a full two weeks, while the unwrapped cucumber loses 3.5% of its weight in only three days. This extension of shelf life means less waste and food spoilage for both the retailer and the shopper.

Longer shelf life also allows bulk sizes that once weren’t possible due to spoilage. Just a few years ago, consumers couldn’t enjoy the convenience of a one-pound bag of precooked bacon capable of staying fresh for three months. Now they can, confident their hard-earned money won’t be squandered on bulk purchases destined to spoil.

Best of all, using plastic for food packaging provides other advantages such as lightweight plastic delivers freight savings and less packaging overall.

Only two pounds of plastic can hold 1,300 ounces of beverage  – about 10 gallons of juice, soda, or water. The same products in other packaging? Try three pounds of aluminum, eight pounds of steel, or a whopping 40 pounds of glass.

And, children are protected from glass breakage, now that kid-friendly foods such as baby food and jelly come in flexible film or polystyrene plastic packaging.

These innovations for extending shelf life and preventing waste make plastic worth serious consideration in any food package design.’ 

Brian Porter is vice president and head of consulting at Ernest Packaging and a blogger at Plastic Packaging Perspectives.

2 comments (Comments are now closed)

Yes, but there are some downsides

whilst I agree Vac Packing extends life. Just 'cling wrapping' foods such as raw meats encourages spoilage.

I experimented by purchasing and storing in a fridge, raw meats purchased from butchers shops which was non wrapped on display and so was dry on the surface and raw meats from supermarkets which were 'cling wrapped on display. Both samples were stored in the fridge as displayed and the cling wrapped meat from the supermarket spoiled much more quickly. Its like all things in food safety it has to be managed and kept in persepctive!

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Posted by Terri Stigwood
20 January 2014 | 14h08

fresh chicken in plastic.

I would like to find out more about the frsh chicken in plastic , MAP bags>

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Posted by Ivan Ortlepp
20 January 2014 | 07h41

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