Food packaging plays a primary role in ensuring safety in the food supply. Advanced in food processing and packaging are drastically increasing to ensure that food safety standards are met. Packaging maintains the benefits of food processing after the process is complete, and without causing harmful effects to people who consume the food. It also allows food to move from the point of production to the point of consumption while it remains intact despite the long busy distance. In other scenarios, food processing industries use packaging as a tool of marketing operation. The packages are used to brand the firm or advertise it in some way. Sometimes packages enhance the appearance of a product and make’s it more appealing to a consumer.
Attaining And Equilibrium
Packaging technology has to balance between different issues to keep with regulations. Such include food protection with other aspects such as heightened social and environmental consciousness, energy and material cost, and strict controls on pollutants as well as the disposal of municipal solid waste. They also protect food such as meat from microbial contamination and other sensitive foods from light, physical damage or chemical changes.
There are many types of materials used for food packaging, and some include foil, laminates, coated sheets, films, metals, plastics, traditional, and papers. These items degrade differently while some do not degrade at all. Here you will learn about how these food packaging materials affect the environment and more useful information on the subject.
Impact Of Food Packaging On The Environment
Environmental degradation caused by food packaging materials is not a new topic. Some materials such as plastic are dumped almost everywhere causing an adverse effect to the ecosystem. As crucial packaging are, they pose a significant threat to the environment. Packaging creation requires the consumption of natural resources and hence destroying some of the unexpecting animal’s habitats. Some companies also do not regrow some of the natural resources they exploit like the trees.
The process of creating these packaging materials also degrades the environment, as toxic gasses are introduced into the air. If these processes are not controlled the air will get more toxic. Sometimes these packaging waste are dumped irresponsibly causing pollution the environment, and some of these waste do not degrade at all.
Forest resources are commonly used for packaging materials such as wood and paper. Contentious unrestricted consumption of forest resources will undermine its growth balance. An undermined growth balance will lead to norms such as soil erosion, desertification, water shortages and a series of ecological problems.
Non-degradable packaging materials stay around for an extremely long time, these materials may vary, but their effects are the same. Such packaging destroys the soil components as well as other components of the environment via atmosphere and aquatic systems. The soil is essential since it’s used for agriculture, if affected it would lead to food insecurity.
Food packaging materials are not only harmful to the environment but also to other animals. Packaging waste irresponsibly dumped may be ingested by other animals causing their demise. Waste dumped in the ocean creates a vast degrading to the environment and the creatures living in the sea, and the waste might affect the mating seasons.
Waste Management Approach
The effects of food packaging on the environment are quite adverse, and proper waste management is essential to protect human health and the environment and to preserve natural resources. Some of these practices include
- Source reduction – is entails using less packaging, designing products that last longer as well as reusing products and materials. Source reduction also reduces the amount and toxicity of the waste by changing the design, purchase, manufacture or use of the original material and products.
- Combustion – this can be considered as the controlled burning of waste in a designated facility. Combustion is preferred to materials which cannot be recycled or composted. Combustion is advantageous since it can be used to create waste-to-energy facilities. The combustion incinerators can be equipped to produce steam which is used for providing heat for generating electricity thus waste-to-energy combustors.
- Composting – though considered in other places as recycling, composting is the controlled aerobic or biological degradation of organic materials. Composting is a valuable alternative to waste disposal. Composting as a process involves positioning organic materials into piles and providing enough moisture for aerobic decomposition by microorganisms.
- Land lifting – as a process it gives environmentally sound way for disposal of any remaining municipal solid waste, and also the residues of recycling and combustion operations.
Packaging And Recycling
Most printed packaging materials come with a marked symbol which indicates whether it can be recycled or not. These symbols may be a series of arrows forming a triangle or a stick person standing over a bin. However, if the packaging does not have a recycling symbol does not mean it cannot be recycled. Materials which may be recycled include paper, cardboard, glass, corks, some plastics, and some metals.
Different packaging can only be recycled for a different number of times while some infinitely. It is essential to understand how many times a type of material can be recycled to maintain quality packaging. Here is a list of the lifespan of the most commonly used packaging materials:
- Plastic – once
- Polystyrene – once
- Cardboard – 3 to 4 times
- Paper – 5 to 7 times
- Glass – infinitely
- Aluminum, copper and other metals – infinitely
Biodegradable packaging goes a long way to reduce waste on the planet and can improve a company’s eco reputation. These materials are easily broken down and decompose rapidly, and they range from wood and paper to some plastics. The biodegradable packaging does not release toxic substances into the environment around them and can be composted at home, alongside food waste or garden clippings. They can also be disposed of correctly by a registered waste carrier.
The primary purpose of food packaging should be significantly maintained to ensure safety, wholesomeness, and quality of food consumed the daily consumer. Environmental degradation caused by food packaging can be reduced by following set guidelines, prudently selecting materials and reviewing expectations of packaging regarding ecological impact.
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