Packaging Must Not Distract From Food Waste Issues

<p style="text-align: justify;">In a recent discussion with Dick Searle, chief executive of the Packaging Federation, regarding the positive role packaging plays in society; he reminded me about some of the key findings of the WRAP report &ldquo;<a href="">UK progress against Courtauld 2025 targets and Sustainable Development Goal 12.3</a>&rdquo; published in January 2020*.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">Although the report is primarily concerned with the nation&rsquo;s progress in reducing UK food waste and greenhouse gas emissions associated with food consumed, in doing so, it highlights some very interesting facts, not least the relative contribution of the various elements of the food supply chain to the UK&rsquo;s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">That percentage contribution per stage in the value chain is reproduced here as a pie chart and shows that by far the biggest contribution to GHG is from food production and food manufacture itself, 68 per cent in fact and that the total GHG contribution from packaging is, by comparison, a mere three per cent.&nbsp;</p><p style="text-align: justify;">Putting this into context, packaging has over 22.5 times less impact on the UK&rsquo;s food supply chain GHG emission than the food it protects.</p><p><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="" width="522" height="342" /></p><p style="text-align: justify;">This, to me, calls into question the preoccupation some have with the carbon footprint of packaging.</p><h2 style="text-align: justify;">&nbsp;</h2><h2 style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 14pt;">How Packaging Helps Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions in the Food Supply Chain</span></h2><p style="text-align: justify;">Packaging extends shelf life which means that the loss of the 68% GHG emissions incurred during associated production and manufacture is reduced. It also limits even more GHGs being generated by food spoiling and producing methane.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">Packaging is often used as a distraction from the wider issues around excessive food waste. The irony, of course, is that packaging is very much part of the solution to food waste, especially packaging such as metal that imparts such a long shelf life to the product it protects.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">*The report outlines progress in reducing UK food waste and greenhouse gas emissions associated with food consumed in the UK &ndash; in the context of the Courtauld Commitment 2025 targets (2015 to 2018) and the UN Sustainable Development Goal 12.3 (2007 to 2018).</p><p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 10pt;"><em>This <a href="">article</a> was contributed by our expert Robert Fell.</em></span></p><p style="text-align: justify;">&nbsp;</p><h3 style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 18pt;">Frequently Asked Questions Answered By Robert Fell:</span></h3><h2><span style="font-size: 12pt;">1. What initiatives are there currently in the UK to reduce food waste?</span></h2><p style="text-align: justify;">Currently, there are several initiatives that aim towards the reduction in food waste. Some of them include</p><ul><li style="text-align: justify;">Food Waste Reduction Roadmap, an initiative between WRAP and the Institute of Grocery Distribution (IGD)</li><li style="text-align: justify;">Love Food Hate Waste and Wasting Food: It&rsquo;s Out of Date, which aims at reducing household waste</li><li style="text-align: justify;">Guardians of Grub, it aims at tackling waste in the hospitality sector</li><li style="text-align: justify;">Innovative Farmers, is another not-for-profit network of farmers who are gathering data on food waste and trialing innovative research</li></ul><h2><span style="font-size: 12pt;">2. What contribution of food is there to UK's carbon footprint?</span></h2><p style="text-align: justify;">Food is considered to contribute about 20% of the UK&rsquo;s carbon footprint. in 2020 WRAP published the full GHG breakdown of the UK&rsquo;s food supply chain in 2018. &nbsp;Total food production, including imported food accounted for 68%, packaging only 3.3%. In fact, UK consumers emit almost twice the about of GHG&rsquo;s driving to and from the shops to purchase their food that all the packaging used to protect it.</p><h2 style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">3. How does food packaging reduce food waste?</span></h2><p style="text-align: justify;">Packaging can reduce food waste as it prevents the spoilage of the food items due to external factors such as environment (light, oxygen, temperature, humidity) and mechanical factors (damage during transportation).</p><p style="text-align: justify;">Active packaging is a method adopted to help extend shelf life while maintaining the quality of the food.</p><h2 style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">4. How can we make food packaging eco-friendly?</span></h2><p style="text-align: justify;">There are multiple ways to make more eco-friendly food packaging, some of these are:&nbsp;<br />&bull; &nbsp; &nbsp;Use of Bioplastics<br />&bull; &nbsp; &nbsp;Use of Biodegradable food packaging<br />&bull; &nbsp; &nbsp;Use of Recyclable food packaging<br />&bull; &nbsp; &nbsp;Use of Optimized food packaging</p><p>&nbsp;</p>
KR Expert - Robert Fell

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