Fully sustainable in every way

Food companies are facing many challenges due to fluctuating raw material prices, changing regulations, and demanding consumers. One of their major hurdles is to achieve sustainability goals, while acting in an economically and ecologically viable way

Plastic has long been considered the packaging material of choice across most industries. These times are slowly, but steadily, coming to an end. Several in the EU, for example, are aiming for a reduction in plastic, each with a different strategy. For one, France is aiming to reduce single-use consumer packaging to nil by 2040. The phased plan includes various plastic-based products, from disposable cups to register receipts.

France is not alone in this endeavour, however; countries such as Belgium and Spain are following suit and even going beyond the EU regulations, which state all plastic packaging on the European market must be recyclable or reusable by 2030. Food producing companies across Europe must therefore invest in innovative technologies that protect people and the environment, while still maintaining competitiveness across different industries.

A world with less plastic

In 2020, the EU saw the introduction of the “plastics tax”. It included a levy of €0.80 per kg of non-recycled plastic packaging waste generated in each respective member states. Germany alone had to pay €1.3bn in tax money to the EU in 2021 due to this*. The current German government wants to hold manufacturers and distributors of plastic packaging more accountable. According to its coalition agreement, these companies are intended to pay the EU plastics tax in the long term*.

Regulatory pressure has the food industry turning towards alternative packaging solutions, with paper as the new packaging material of choice. In the public perception, paper is seen as more environmentally-friendly. Unlike plastic, it also decomposes faster and is easy to recycle. However, while paper accounts for a considerable share of the overall packaging solution, especially with liquid or viscous foods, it is not the only used material. Current paper packaging solutions are composite materials, since they need a plastic barrier for tightness and product protection.

As an alternative to paper-based packaging, innovative solutions made of mono-materials are available to food companies: films, cups, and blanks made of polyethylene (PE) or polypropylene (PP) offer the same protection as classic composite materials – with the advantage of significantly higher recyclability.

The full article can be found here.