Office cuisine

Let’s talk about food packaging

vegetablespackageDid you ever noticed that when you come back home from your grocery shopping, half of the weight of your bags is going straight to the trash? This is maybe linked to the fact that our food is wrapped in paper-plastic-glass, sometimes with only one layer, sometimes with much more. In fact, this is completely linked. Most of our food is suffering from overpackaging, and the planet is suffering from it too. But why?

The first reason to package food is to protect the products during transportation from their producing area to the shop, and this is done to avoid damaged and spoiled goods that will have to be thrown away. And wasting food is not what we want of course. The second reason is to help food to stay fresh longer so that you can consume it in a larger amount of time, to avoid waste again. But is it a reason to sell you bananas under plastic or cookies in 3 layers of packaging?
In fact, many companies are earning a lot of money in this industry. In Europe, the packaging market is about 100 billion of Euros.[1] The companies are also using it to attract the consumer with a well designed packaging.

But in 2012, 156,8 kg of packaging waste was generated per inhabitants in the European Union. [2]
It is a pollution problem: how many of the packaging is not recyclable? How many people are actually recycling? How much of this plastic is ending up in the nature, polluting the environment and harming animals? I think we all saw these pictures of what was found inside a turtle stomach or when their head is stuck into a piece of plastic. People are sometimes throwing away food that is still into packaging (7kg per person per year in France for example). This is all linked with the fact of buying products from all over the world because they need to travel and to be more and more packed. This has a cost: in France for example, it costs 1,88 billion Euros per year to the State to manage packaging waste.[3]

A lot of people begin to realize how crazy overpackaging can go sometimes. You can actually find many web pages about it, like this one for example: http://overpacking.com. But what can we do to avoid that? The overpackaging mania is touching almost every object that you can buy in a shop or online, but in the domain of food, this is where the alternatives are the easiest to find.

bulkfoodHere are some tips that can help us staying away from buying over-packaged food:

  • The first step can be to always take our own bags with us while going to buy food.
  • The second thing can be to be cautious of the packaging of every product we buy, to try to find the products with the less layers of packaging possible and preferably recyclable. This can be quite easy for some products, as fruits and vegetables and some dairies, if we can buy them locally to farmers or local shops because most of the time they are not wrapped.
    New materials are coming into the packaging market, trying to find alternatives to the use of renewable resources into this industry: for example, using seaweeds as an alternative to create plastic-like cases.
  • Another idea is to find some package-free or zero waste groceries in our cities. In a more simple way, try to find bulk food shops. There are more and more everywhere in the world. We can come with your own containers or take some reusable ones in the shop.
  • Another easy way of not buying food with package it to not buy food. As long as it is still something that we need, we can always try to grow some fruits, vegetables and herbs and you will see that there is no need to put them into plastic before eating them. Even when you live in a city, you can find solutions by searching “how to grow vegetables in small spaces” on the internet.[4]
  • Some people are even trying a zero waste way of life and not simply about food. There are a lot of blogs about it but you can for example check this one: http://www.litterless.co/journal/new-to-zero-waste

by Amelys Erard

[1] Market Statistics and Future Trends in Global Packaging, World Packaging Organization, worldpackaging.org
[2] http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php/Packaging_waste_statistics
[3] http://www.planetoscope.com/recyclage-collecte/694-emballages-menagers-jetes-en-france.html
[4] You can find an example here:http://www.bbc.co.uk/gardening/digin/your_space/

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This entry was written by yeefoodblog and published on May 26, 2016 at 12:06. It’s filed under Articles and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

2 thoughts on “Let’s talk about food packaging

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