Why Should You Prefer Plastic-Free Food Packaging?

Plastic Free

Let’s say you decided to refuse plastic bags and now you use reusable bags to fight plastic pollution. Then, you go to the supermarket and realize that almost every item you want to buy comes wrapped in plastic!
Unfortunately, plastic bags are just the tip of the iceberg. As you will notice, most of your plastic waste comes from food packaging. The good news is that you can find plastic-free packaging too!
In this article, you will learn how to reduce that waste and why plastic-free food packaging is better for your health and the environment!

Why Is Food Packaging Important?

Packaging protects products from damage and contamination so that you can get your food in optimal conditions. In fact, it protects vegetables and fruits from humidity, light, and the bacteria that accelerate rot. So, food packaging can extend the shelf life of some products and prevent food waste!
And last but not least, it provides information about nutritional content, ingredients, and storage!
Usually, plastics are the preferred option to meet these goals. That said, several plastic-free packaging alternatives would work great too. Moreover, plastic-free options are safer for consumers and more eco-friendly!

Why Is Plastic-free Food Packaging Better?

Plastic Free Food Packaging
You can find food packaging made of different materials, like plastic, glass, aluminum, and so on. But let’s be honest, the most common material out there is plastic. Although it’s convenient for both consumers and industries, it’s the most problematic material for your health and the environment!
Plastics aren’t biodegradable, so you have two options: reuse them or discard them. As they’re single-use, most people will throw them away. But what they don’t know is that plastic packaging is rarely recycled! As a result, food packaging has become the most common trash item found in the ocean!
Additionally, plastics contain toxic chemicals that can contaminate your food and beverages! So, a better option would be choosing plastic-free food packaging options, such as glass, metal, paper, and other recyclable or biodegradable alternatives. Keep reading to learn more about biodegradable options and other plastic-free packaging alternatives!

Are Biodegradable Plastics The Solution?

The short answer: No, they’re not.
Biodegradable plastics have a better carbon footprint than regular plastics because they’re made from renewable sources, like sugarcane or corn. Yet, they can cause some problems. Even though they’re a biodegradable option, it doesn’t mean they biodegrade easily in nature.
Most biodegradable plastics are designed to biodegrade at high temperatures in composting facilities. Moreover, if they’re sent to recycling facilities they will contaminate recyclable plastics. Likewise, if they end up in landfills they will generate greenhouse gases.
In short, they can be a good plastic-free packaging alternative if they’re certified for home-composting or you have access to composting facilities.

How to Reduce Plastic Food Packaging Waste?

Plastic food packaging is the most problematic waste to reduce, but it doesn’t mean you can’t do it! The next time you go food shopping, keep in mind the following tips to prevent waste:

  • Avoid fruits and vegetables packaged in plastic containers or wrapped in plastic. Bring your own reusable bags and buy loose options instead. Another plastic-free alternative would be buying fresh and seasonal vegetables at the farmer’s market!
  • Before looking for plastic-free food packaging alternatives, avoid packaging in the first place. Find zero waste grocery stores and use your own containers to cut down on waste!
  • Try to avoid processed foods as they usually come with lots of plastic packaging. A healthier option would be preparing your foods with plastic-free natural ingredients!
  • If you can’t avoid packaging, look for plastic-free food packaging options, such as paper, cardboard, aluminum, stainless steel, or glass. You can recycle or reuse these options! Below you will find other great examples of plastic-free packaging solutions!
  • If you couldn’t avoid plastic packaging, the best thing you can do is reuse it! Plastic is a durable material, you don’t have to throw it away just because it’s “single-use”. For example, you could reuse plastic containers to store things in your house!
  • Finally, find out what types of plastics you can recycle in your area. If you can’t find plastic-free packaging alternatives, choose plastics that you know you can recycle!


Great Examples of Plastic-free Food Packaging

Leaf wrapper instead of plastic: plastic free food packaging example
Food packaging is something that companies and consumers can’t avoid. Because of that, companies should opt for plastic-free packaging alternatives to prevent waste. Nowadays, there are some innovative examples of plastic-free food packaging around the world:

KitKat

Chocolate bars are traditionally packaged in plastic wrap, which people usually throw away. However, Nestlé Japan opted for a creative plastic-free packaging alternative. They replaced plastic with paper and included instructions on how to turn the package into origami cranes!

Thailand Stores

In Thailand, some groceries and supermarkets are now wrapping their food in banana leaves to fight plastic pollution. With this plastic-free food packaging alternative, they seek to reduce their waste!

TIPA

TIPA is an Israeli-based company that offers plastic-free food packaging solutions. They’ve created a bio-based material that has all the properties of conventional plastic but behaves like organic waste. And it’s certified for industrial and home composting! It’s a useful plastic-free packaging option for dry food, fresh produce, meat, bars, and more!

E6PR

When plastic six-pack rings end up in the ocean, they become very problematic for wildlife. For that reason, the company E6PR designed a plastic-free packaging alternative made out of organic waste. Their “ecorings” can biodegrade in composting facilities and under natural conditions!

Resources:
“E6PR.” E6pr. Web. 22 Dec. 2020.
“Food Wrappers Top List of Items Found on Beaches, Waterways Worldwide for First Time in More than Three Decades, Ocean Conservancy Report Reveals.” Ocean Conservancy. 08 Sept. 2020. Web. 22 Dec. 2020.
“Is Plastic a Threat to Your Health?” Harvard Health. Web. 22 Dec. 2020.
“Sustainability.” T I P A. 25 Aug. 2020. Web. 22 Dec. 2020.
               
Author: Monica Chang
On my own ethical journey since 2010. Always happy to learn more!