Five sustainable alternatives to plastic for food packaging

Five sustainable alternatives to plastic for food packaging

Plastic is one of the most often used food packaging materials. It can be found in almost any packaging application you can think of. In today’s society, there seem to be practically billions of tonnes of plastic. Every year, massive amounts of new plastic are manufactured!

As the ecological ramifications of our dependency on single-use plastic drinking cups, spoons, covers, and plastic containers have become evident worldwide, the packaging industry is under tremendous pressure to develop alternate forms of packaged food.

Why should brands care?

Plastics is currently one of the world’s most pressing issues. Thanksquickly developing plastic replacements. 25% of customers are apprehensive about plastic packaging, 42% believe companies should emphasise making packaging recyclable, and 21% believe the economy should completely move toward plastic-free packaging.

What are ways for food packaging to be sustainable environmentally friendly?

As a business owner, you should consider strategies to decrease your ecological footprint, such as using sustainable products, minimising your carbon footprint, and reducing waste. Evaluate the following strategies to become sustainable in today’s climate.

Take Care of Your Materials

Your climate effect is influenced by the packing materials you utilise. Instead of standard petroleum-based plastic, use sustainable packaging for food and other items.

Digital printing is the way to go

The packing process is where sustainability begins. Isn’t digital printing a considerably more environmentally friendly option? It requires less power and generates fewer wastes.

Ally with a local business

Consider that using a local printer can lower the greenhouse gas emissions of sourcing items from abroad or even cross-country transit while reducing carbon dioxide emissions. This implies not just fewer pollutants but also a shorter processing time.

Make Contact with Your Clients

There are various methods to communicate with your consumers, and some of them can even assist you in determining whether or not your product is being properly disposed of. You may follow a product’s path from start to finish using track and trace technologies.

What is the most sustainable way to package food?

While the above strategies help to reduce carbon footprint, merely technology is not enough. The good news is that materials and sustainable alternatives to plastic food packaging set their pace in modern society.

Bagasse:

Bagasse is used for several purposes, including as a fuel in sugar mills and livestock feed. It’s mainly utilised as a non-plastic substitute to throw away food storage and dinnerware.

Bagasse is 100 per cent disposable, so there’s no need to be concerned about any harmful impact it may have on the environment once you’ve stopped using it. Bagasse may be composted at home, but it composts more quickly at industrial composting facilities, where it takes just 60 days to decompose.

Pros:

  • Bagasse, unlike plastic and paper, dissolves quickly and manures without emitting dangerous substances into the environment.
  • Sugarcane is a carbon sink; hence increasing sugarcane output might help reduce greenhouse emissions.
  • Bagasse production may potentially lower our environmental footprint; sugarcane sequesters 1.794kg of atmospheric co2 per kilo of bagasse created.

Cons:

Bagasse may shed some of its durability when used to keep meals warmer than 95 degrees Celsius, despite its excellent level of resilience to both heat and cold. Bagasse is otherwise a superb food packaging material.

Areca Palm:

Areca palm leaf decomposes quickly and does not constitute environmental damage. A leaf plate does not need the chopping of any trees, unlike banana and bamboo, which require the felling of several trees. Although bananas and bamboo are biodegradable, manufacturing and processing them has an impact on the planet. However, areca leaf plates are created without harming the environment, and areca palm leaf packaging is far less expensive.

Pros:

  • Compostable
  • With a rustic wooden finish, it has a lovely appearance.
  • Disposable
  • Sturdy and Lightweight
  • Each plate is distinct.

Cons:

  • Some fluids are absorbed, and if liquids sit for hours, they may seep through.
  • When the finishing is microwaved, bubbles can occur.
  • The bases aren’t usually flat; there may be some bending.

Bioplastics:

The commercial production of biodegradable plastics is equivalent to that of regular plastic, except that the ingredients utilised are biodegradable plastics, which are polymers that degrade or dissolve quickly. They are either produced entirely of natural materials, such as corn starch, or from typical petrochemicals that are meant to break down more quickly.

Pros:

  • It’s simple to recycle biodegradable plastics.
  • They use fewer resources in the manufacturing process.
  • The quantity of waste generated is reduced.
  • Compostability.
  • When biodegradable plastics decompose, they do not produce dangerous substances.

Cons:

  • Both processing and recycling need expensive equipment.
  • Pollutant risk due to a misunderstanding of the difference between biodegradable and non-biodegradable plastics.
  • In the trash, biodegradable plastics may emit methane.
  • Biodegradable plastics, unexpectedly, do not alleviate ocean pollution issues.

Rice Straw:

Rice straw is a by-product of the rice-growing process. This straw is generated more than 800 million tonnes per year across the world. Farmers might expect two to three crops each year using intensive rice cultivation strategies. This tight schedule is incompatible with the preconditions for rice straw to decompose naturally.

Pros:

  • Rice straw contains carbohydrates, cellulose, and lignin. Straw may be converted into paper and cardboard for packaging using chemical pulping technology.
  • This process involves extracting plant material from rice straw to manufacture paper, with 65 per cent of the rice straw being turned into pulp that can be utilised in the paper and cardboard industries.
  • Rice straw is a great packing material because of its resilience and resistance to compaction.

Cons:

  • The main drawback of incorporating rice straw is the increased weed and insect pressure as opposed to burning.
  • In intensive systems with two to three harvesting rotations each year, soil incorporation is a difficulty.

Cardboard:

Many firms consider paper and cardboard to be quick solutions for achieving their plastic reduction goals. We are presently suffering cardboard shortages since the consumption of cardboard boxes has exceeded the ability of paper mills, owing to the enormous development in e-commerce that year and other issues like the epidemic.

Pros:

  • Renewable wood pulp (processed into kraft paper) or recycled cardboard material are used to make cardboard.
  • Cardboard has a significant environmental advantage over plastic since it is biodegradable and degrades considerably faster.
  • One of the most significant benefits is that cardboard boxes can be reused, and because their edges are flexible, they may be compressed when not in use.
  • Cardboard is ideal for marketing, branding, and promotional reasons since it can simply be printed on.

Cons:

  • Cardboard is less durable than plastic and is prone to mould, fire, and water damage due to exposure to the elements.
  • Because cardboard cannot support as much weight as plastic, it cannot be layered as readily without breaking.
  • Water and other forms of liquid penetrate. Therefore cardboard is not the greatest choice for weather resistance.
  • The logistical footprint of paper-based materials is larger since plastic is lighter and thinner than cardboard substitutes.
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Conclusion

You might try switching to a bioplastic solution as a workaround. Bioplastics decompose far better than regular plastics when appropriately composted, making them much more eco-friendly, even though they are not yet compostable. Overall, there is no one-size-fits-all solution, and each company’s needs must be assessed to determine the best course of action.

You can access the list of sustainable food packaging companies here