Food fight – tackling waste with high-quality packaging

With roughly one third of the food we produce every year ending up on the trash pile instead of in our stomachs, cutting down food waste is becoming an urgent global priority. High-quality food-grade packaging is part of the solution to this problem as it reduces waste by extending the shelf life of packaged goods and allows safe transport over long distances. Cutting down on food waste also helps us combat the adverse effects of climate change.

Food fight – tackling waste with high-quality packaging

You’re probably handling fiber-based food packaging board within minutes of waking up each morning. It’s the material that your milk carton, cereal packet, and juice box are made of. But you may not have considered the role packaging plays in keeping food fresh, both on the store shelf and in your home after opening – and therefore preventing waste. Wasted food is a major waste of resources like water, land, energy, labor, and capital, and is a source of needlessly produced greenhouse gas emissions.

A problem that demands an urgent solution

According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), roughly one third of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year — approximately 1.3 billion tons — gets lost or wasted. When converted into calories, global food loss and waste amounts to approximately 24 percent of all food produced. And when it comes to the impact on climate change, if food waste were a country it would be the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases.

And these issues are going to become increasingly critical in the future. According to the FAO, the world will have to increase its food supply by 70 percent to meet the demands of a population expected to reach 9.7 billion by 2050. Because increasing production alone is not the answer, we have to make better use of the food we buy. To help us do this, retailers will have to ensure longer shelf life and less wastage during transport at the same time as they source more products from further afield.

How high-quality packaging can help

This is where high-quality food-grade packaging takes center stage, helping to extend shelf life, increase food safety, and reduce food waste. The packaging must protect both the food and the consumer. Chemistry helps to keep fiber-based packaging free from contaminating microbes and thus protects both the food and consumer. When it comes to ensuring compliance with regulatory requirements, specific chemistry expertise is needed to maintain the hygiene level – both in the board-producing machines as well as the packaging itself.

Over the past decade, Kemira has emerged as one of the leading global suppliers of microbe control solutions to the board industry. We offer a full range of products to ensure efficient and compliant food packaging that extends shelf life and reduces waste.

“Our solutions and, more importantly, how we apply them, are driven by the deep understanding we’ve gained from numerous R&D programs and mill trials,” says Marko Kolari, Senior Principal Scientist, Microbiology and Biotechnology at Kemira. “This means we know what works to ensure that board packaging is as hygienic and safe as possible.”

When it comes to packaging, we want to create products that not only meet our customer needs, but create a lower impact on the environment.

The big picture – not just food, but food-related waste

Chemistry is also important when it comes to creating other desirable packaging properties, such as a lighter weight or water resistance. It also helps to ensure efficient recycling – an important consideration in the battle to reduce food-related waste. “When it comes to packaging, we always want to look at the big picture and create products that not only meet our customer needs, but create a lower impact on the environment,” Kolari explains.

As a precious resource that we cannot afford to waste, food deserves packaging that ensures it can travel increasingly long distances to our homes and enable it to stay fresh for long enough that we can enjoy every last bite.

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