Packaging is one of the crucial aspects of food production. It keeps the products safe from the outside elements so they can arrive at stores and customers without damage or spoilage. However, irresponsible fabrication and disposal of food packaging is also a primary cause of the world’s waste problem. As a solution, businesses are moving towards sustainable options.
Sustainable packaging reduces the environmental impact of the supply chain. It involves using recyclable, reusable, and biodegradable materials and minimizing or eradicating plastics. Although switching to green options is the best for your business, it can also be challenging. Here are some practical steps to achieve sustainable packaging in your food production.
- Prioritize Durability
The most critical factor in switching to sustainable food packaging is durability. Since food products are perishable, they require a rigid material that can withstand impact and temperature changes.
One of the newest innovations in sustainable food packaging is thermoformed plastic. Some of the notable benefits you can get from thermoform packaging are flexibility, resilience, and tamper resistance. It’s made through injection moulding, reducing the use of food-grade plastic by up to 15% compared to the traditional production method.
Aside from thermoformed plastic, you may also use plant-based materials like wheat straw and hemp, lined with a moisture-resistant coating to preserve food freshness for longer.
- Consider Cost-Effectiveness
One massive challenge in switching to sustainable food packaging is the additional cost, especially for small businesses. Due to the limited supply of eco-friendly options, the material and production costs can be higher than the widely available options made from plastic. Therefore, finding a cost-effective option is imperative.
One way to save on packaging costs is to source locally. The growing popularity of green packaging has led to the constant growth of manufacturers. Although they aren’t as abundant as plastic packaging, you can find a supplier near you. Sourcing locally can help you save on shipping costs. Plus, it reduces your business’ overall carbon footprint.
- Pick Compostable Materials
Another essential step to sustainable packaging is picking compostable materials. Since the improper disposal of packaging can only add to the growing waste management problem, giving a solution to the end line of consumption is a smart decision.
Recycled paper, beeswax wrap, and plant-based inks are some of the most accessible materials you can use for food packaging. Consumers can shred these materials and put them in their compost bin upon consumption. Then, they will degrade over time with other food wastes like fruit and vegetable peels and dried leaves.
- Select Recyclable Packaging
If using a compostable material isn’t the most practical choice for your food production, selecting recyclables is the best alternative. Recyclable packaging allows endless reprocessing and reuse of materials without degradation. This way, you can reduce waste while saving on packaging costs in the long run.
Recyclable packaging like glass and food-grade stainless steel are some of the best choices. These materials are safe even for liquid and paste food products, especially those preserved for a longer shelf-life. You may also include a disposal guide for your consumers and provide drop-off points where you can collect these used packaging for recycling. Although these steps may be costly initially, the positive environmental impact will be rewarding.
- Source Materials Ethically
There needs to be more than just sustainable packaging from a supplier to ensure green production. Some consumers may want to know where the whole product is sourced and if it’s done ethically. This step is crucial to a business’s reputation, especially those labeled as eco-friendly.
Ethically sourcing materials is imperative to ensure your business is on the right track. For instance, the paper used in your food packaging should be sourced by adhering to the best practices in tree harvesting. The same goes for other plant-based materials like wheat, hemp, cotton, and soy.
- Minimize Packaging
One issue that increases the use of plastics in the supply chain is overpackaging. It’s the unnecessary wrapping of food items, only escalating the amount of waste, but it doesn’t benefit the product itself. As a solution, businesses should practice smart minimization of packaging.
Minimizing packaging for the less vulnerable product is a good practice to reduce waste. For produce, leaving it unwrapped is enough since the skin or outer covering acts as the protective layer. Using a water-soluble plastic film or a beeswax wrap is also an eco-friendly option.
- Go For Versatility
Switching to sustainable materials should maintain the overall look of your packaging. Since visual appeal always matters in product selling, finding an eco-friendly option that offers versatility in design is a must.
Printing is essential when creating unique food packaging. The labels carry your brand’s identity, so choosing a versatile, sustainable material that allows prints is a must. To ensure you’re using all eco-friendly products, from the packaging to the labels, you may use plant-based and water-based ink.
Achieving sustainable packaging in your food production is a significant challenge. However, taking the steps toward sustainability is a brilliant long-term plan for your business. You can retain and acquire more customers by providing superb products while following eco-friendly practices.