The report Global Food: Waste Not, Want Not, published by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers today, said the waste was being caused by poor storage, strict sell-by dates, bulk offers which encourage shoppers to buy more food than they need and consumer fussiness.
According to the study, between 30% and 50% of the four billion tonnes of food produced around the world each year goes to waste.
Alan Davey, Director of Innovation at LINPAC Packaging, said: “This report demonstrates how important it is for retailers, food manufacturers and the packaging industry to work closer together to tackle this problem.
“It would not be wrong to say that if packaging was invented today it would be regarded as one of the greatest green technologies due to its protective and preserving qualities. Imagine a world without packaging; the manufacture, transport, distribution and consumption of virtually every consumer good would be impossible. Quality packaging can significantly reduce waste across the entire supply chain by giving food a longer shelf life and ensures food can be transported around the world safely and securely.”
Alan said food packaging companies were working smarter than ever before to develop packaging which is lighter, more sustainable and more recyclable yet which is still fit for purpose in terms of protecting, preserving and presenting food to a high standard.
Changing global demographics, for example the increase in single person households, also had an impact on pack design, he said. Research carried out by Defra showed single-person households to be the worst offenders when it comes to food waste, throwing away 22% of the food they buy.
Such a figure led LINPAC Packaging to launch its split pack range for fresh and cooked meats. The packs, which allow contents to be divided into separate portion-size compartments, in modified atmosphere packaging (MAP), mean consumers can store food in the fridge for longer without compromising food safety.
Alan said: “While food waste remains such a major problem for the environment, it is essential for all the links in the food supply chain to play their part in solving the problem. At LINPAC Packaging, we are acutely aware of our role in helping consumers minimise waste by designing innovative packaging solutions which enable them to only select the food they want to use and in maximising the shelf life of stored products in their homes.
“Well-designed packaging can help consumers buy the right amount of food and then keep it in the best condition for longer. LINPAC Packaging split packs are designed so that the consumer can buy a tray of four chicken fillets for example, open one side of the pack and use two of them, then put the remaining two back in the fridge in a pack which is still completely sealed, with all the properties of an unopened pack.”
The food packaging company has also teamed up with Addmaster to develop a technically-advanced range of trays and films with built-in antimicrobial technology to reduce bacteria growth on the outer packaging of fresh meat. The technology helps to reduce spoilage and increase the shelf life of food by inhibiting the growth of bacteria, moulds and yeast, as well as reduce the risk of contamination from pathogens such as E.Coli, salmonella, listeria and campylobacter.
Alan added: “At LINPAC Packaging, we recognise our role in helping retailers deliver safer food products and support them and consumers minimise waste by designing new safer, innovative packaging solutions. It is essential that the products we develop also respond to changing lifestyles and consumer concerns. Food waste and sustainable packaging is very much at the top of the agenda and we are committed to developing packaging solutions which are innovative, ground-breaking and capable of addressing the challenges of the future.”