That’s a wrap - reducing food waste through sustainable and smart packaging
4 November 2021
While packaging waste is a critical issue, it must be considered alongside the issue of food waste. Fortunately,
projects in food packaging, such as the Glopack (Granting society with LOw environmental impact innovative PACKaging) project, aim to help
delay spoilage across the food production cycle more sustainably.
Protecting food and preventing spoilage have always been prerequisites for food packaging to ensure their contents
reach their destination in good condition, as well as give customers peace of mind that their food is safe and secure.
At the same time, the statistics on both food waste and plastic waste remain stark and sobering. Every year, around
100 million tons of food is wasted in the European Union - equivalent to nearly 30% of the agri-food supply chain - with devastating
While there is no doubt that packaging waste must be addressed, it must be considered alongside the issue of food
waste. If the goal is to minimize overall global greenhouse gas emissions, and conserve resources such as water and land, then companies must
use a balanced scorecard to ensure we make the best decisions to protect the environment.
Fortunately, advances in more sustainable food packaging are helping to delay spoilage across the food production cycle. The GLOPACK project
aims to create innovative packaging solutions which address the challenge - minimising food waste and loss while fighting plastic pollution.
By developing real alternatives to fossil-based packaging and tools to support food companies choosing the right packaging for their products,
the project focused on three promising areas of packaging innovations:
- Biobased and biodegradable packaging.
- Active packaging and
- Intelligent packaging.
Consumers embrace sustainable practices.
According to PwC’s June 2021 Global Consumer Insights Pulse Survey, in just a six-month period, half of all global
consumers surveyed said they have become even more eco-friendly and, expect companies to follow similar environmentally conscious practices
within their operations. One way for food companies to strengthen their brands and attract consumers is to wrap the product appropriately
and use environmentally friendly materials.
The GLOPACK injection molded, and thermoformed trays and cups are made by mixing a biopolymer called
polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) with leftover straw from wheat harvests and vine shoots (PHA is a family of bacterial polyesters that are fully
bio-based and fully biodegradable in natural conditions).
Not only is this a fantastic example of repurposing excess produce, but the developed material is also completely
biodegradable when exposed to water and carbon dioxide at room temperature. Therefore, we can consider this novel material among the most
promising alternatives to oil-based synthetic polymers. Materials like these that use waste will ultimately help the food industry become
less dependent on petrochemical products, setting it up towards a more sustainable future.
Active and intelligent packaging - two powerful weapons
If you’re unaware of what active packaging is exactly, it is often defined as a packaging system that maintains and
may even improve the health properties, organoleptic properties and quality of the packaged food product, thereby extending its shelf-life.
The packaging that the GLOPACK project has developed relies on antimicrobial compounds and oxygen scavengers to improve food preservation
and the shelf-life of products.
The biodegradable packaging was also enhanced with active and intelligent packaging functionalities which provides
the user reliable information about the condition and quality of food.
In GLOPACK, a sensor-enabled radio frequency identification (RFID) tags system embedded in the packaging’s label
transmitting information to devices like a mobile phone was developed. These tags are battery-free and are coated in a layer of plant-based
proteins that emit a weak electrical signal when the gas inside the package changes. The RFID tags enable the consumers to track the
freshness status of the food and to prevent avoidable food waste and losses due to misunderstanding of the expiry date. This novel RFID
system was successfully validated on red meat packaged in modified atmosphere packaging (MAP).
Choosing the right packaging
Deciding which packaging to choose can be a mammoth task – especially for small food companies. These businesses
often rely on the experience and advice of their suppliers to select the most appropriate packaging for their product, but this may
ultimately narrow their options. Our experience at Campden BRI has found that many food businesses – big and small – are not aware of the
new, available technologies that can help them choose the most appropriate packaging.
To fill this gap and to enable the implementation of new packaging solutions, as part of the GLOPACK project, a team
of researchers and packaging experts have developed a decision support system (DSS). The DSS software tool provides a food
manufacturer/packaging producer with an insight into the packaging materials available for their specific product. By extension, it will help
them to select one which best matches their requirements.
Next generation of food packaging
GLOPACK aims to bring together industry-leading experts by operating a stakeholder platform. It allows for knowledge
exchange and discussion relating to food packaging and valorisation issues to allow the experts to develop packaging that suits food business
operator’s needs and expectations.
The GLOPACK project will end in November 2021 and a final Conference will be held on 17 November 2021 in Montpellier,
France and streamed online as an opportunity to present and celebrate achievements to all interested parties.
The GLOPACK Final Event attendance is free, but registration is required. Please
The detailed agenda can be downloaded here.
The GLOPACK project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme
under grant agreement No 773375.
How can we help you?
If you’d like to find out more about reducing food waste, contact our support team to find
out how we can help.
Are you a Campden BRI member who attends the MIG meetings?
- If not, you’re missing out on a whole host of exclusive benefits such as learning from
industry-leading experts and networking with peers to overcome your challenges
This blog was first published in Presse Portal.