Packaging in reducing food waste.
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Packaging in reducing food waste.

According to recent studies, more than 1/3 of global production of food products is wasted throughout the overall supply chain (including the end consumer), resulting to almost 1,3 billion tons of food wastage annually. This food waste is an important source of environmental pollution.
Possible sources of food spoilage could be:
Microbes: yeasts, moulds, rancidity, etc.
Natural/chemical food spoilage pathways: oxidation, browning, etc.
Misuse of food products within the supply chain
Increased consumerism which leads to over-consumption.

Packaging can be part of the solution to reduce food waste across the globe. Further development of innovative resins, plastics and coatings could lead to increased barriers of end packaging materials (oxygen, moisture, UV, light) and result in increased shelf life and freshness preservation of foodstuffs. High barriers also contribute to maintaining the modified atmosphere or vacuum applied in the package.

An ever-increasingly popular technology is “reclosability”. Reclosable packages allow the consumer to use only the requisite quantity of the purchased product and re-package the rest, by performing a “cold sealing”of the plastic packaging material. In this way, the product remains fresh and edible for longer.

Active packaging is also an innovation that is auxiliary to the food-waste reduction cause. An active compound that indicates the point at which the food is inappropriate for consumption and has to be disposed is included in the packaging material. With this technology, the consumer does not dispose of food before it is absolutely necessary, polluting the environment.

Last but not least, correct portioning of food should not be underestimated. In this way, consumers can purchase the amount they really need, without the risk of not using and having to dispose of the product.
In conclusion, it is obvious that utilisation of appropriate packaging technologies could positively contribute to food-waste reduction. According to recent research, the carbon footprint of a disposed plastic package after preserving the contained foodstuff for a couple of weeks, is lower than the amount produced by wasted food, even when the package is not recyclable.