3 Ways Recyclable Packaging Can Reduce Waste in the Food Supply Chain

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The food supply chain聽is big business.聽

Globally, the food and beverages market聽is聽expected toreach a value of聽$7,525.7 billion USD by 2023.聽In the wake of the global pandemic, an increase in home deliveries has accelerated an already growing trend聽of consumers embracing the convenience of a聽food聽supply chain that extends from the farm or kitchen directly to their front doors. Whether shipping to grocery stores or other food retail locations,聽or supporting this e-commerce boom, the food supply chain plays a critical role in our everyday lives.聽

The issue of food waste is a serious one.聽

The UNEP estimates that聽931 million聽tonnes聽of food are wasted every year聽across the globe, with roughly聽570 million聽tonnes聽occurring聽at the household level. With聽an聽estimated 25% of聽US聽residential food waste due to packaging,聽聽improving聽food聽packaging and the logistics of what we eat can have a palpable impact on reducing the amount of food that never fulfills its purpose as nourishment.聽

 

Primary and secondary food packaging that is single use needs to keep food safe, while being safe for health and the environment.聽When we unwrap our groceries, are we risking our health? It鈥檚 possible that chemicals found commonly in food packaging are costing聽billions of dollars in lost productivity via preventable deaths聽in the US alone, every year.聽

Packaging is also a significant source of plastic pollution. Globally, roughly聽42% of all聽non-fiber聽plastics ever made have been used in packaging聽and packaging is responsible for roughly 47% of all plastic waste.聽

In order to聽combat food waste as well as unnecessary plastic waste, businesses can work to develop efficient and green supply chains.聽Here are three steps to take to achieve that.

1. Preserve ideal temperature ranges for products through the grocery supply chain.

Food and beverage items have different temperature needs聽in order to聽avoid spoilage and damage, as well as the possible health and sanitary risks associated with bad food.聽When in transit, the聽cold chain聽refers to the聽food packaging聽and cooling solutions that insulate products to within their ideal temperature range.聽

While the cold chain can be divided up into the 4 categories below, for聽the large majority of聽home deliveries, items will fall into the first three categories of room temperature, chilled, and frozen items.聽Package engineers can test using simulated conditions to determine the ideal package configurations to keep products within their temperature range over the amount of time they spend in transit.

Cold Chart

2. Give food items adequate physical protection.

When packing聽food and beverage聽items for delivery from the warehouse, production facility, or to a customer鈥檚 home,聽temperature is only one聽consideration. Physical damage needs to be mitigated as well;聽an 80 cm drop height is typical for packed products with a weight up to 10 kg, with聽flat bottom聽collisions occurring in 70% of all drop-related shipping accidents.聽These flat bottom drops are also usually the most devastating to packed products.聽Cushioning聽and聽void fill聽are typically used to help protect products in transit.聽

In the case of the cold chain, void fill can also help to keep products cooler by limiting聽the process of convection.聽Put simply, convection moves heat between two objects through transferring聽via moving fluid or gas. When void fill material is taking up extra space in a package, air (gas) is given less space, and the process of convection heating is slowed down.聽

3. Adopt environmentally friendly, recyclable, and sustainable food packaging.

While EPS, or expanded polystyrene, is the subject of bans and phase-out programs聽for specific applications聽across cities and countries including聽New York,聽Australia, and聽the EU, it is still common聽in many areas聽as secondary packaging for food shipments in the cold chain.聽While EPS has strong insulating properties, it鈥檚 a common misconception that plastic based materials are required to keep products cool.聽In fact,聽Ranpak鈥檚聽paper packaging solutions聽include cold chain applications ideally suited for protecting grocery and meal kit deliveries.聽

Cold Packaging Testing

Within this testing chart,聽two layers of聽100% recyclable, sustainable paper聽WrapPak庐聽material was聽shown聽to keep products cool and below a chilled temperature threshold within a margin of 4 hours performance time compared to EPS boxes, surpassing the聽24-hour聽transit time common to most home grocery deliveries.聽

Learn more聽about how you can create a green supply chain by using eco-friendly food packaging聽for聽in-the-box protection and cold chain with聽WrapPak庐!

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