Food Packaging: Environmental Issues and Future Trends

 Institute International defines packaging as, “the enclosure of products, items or packages in a wrapped pouch, bag, box, cup, tray, can, tube, bottle or other container forms to perform one or more of the following functions: containment, protection, preservation, communication, utility and performance”(Robertson, 2006, p.2).

Packaging has been with us for thousands of years in one form or the other. Nature developed food packaging well before man, even to the extent of the outer surface is an indicator to show when the product is ready to eat. Toady food packaging is used, or abused, to provide prepared food for the sophisticated consumer…Today’s consumer wants to buy food which is ready to eat, or needs a minimum of preparation, and is a good value for money. To be able to supply these demands requires the use of different types of packaging for different applications. The packaging is also used by the manufacturer to make his product stand out on the shelf in the supermarket so that the consumer will select his product rather than his competitor. (Mathlouthi, 1994, p.210-11)

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Modern packaging can e defined as a means of ensuring the safe delivery of a product to the consumer in a sound condition at the minimal overall cost. To put packaging materials in perspective, 66% of all packaging is used for food. In developed countries, where packaging is used with a food processing system, food waste is approximately 2-3%.In developing countries, where no such packaging system exists food waste may be as high as 30-50%. (Mathlouthi, 1994, p.211)

Packaging is considered to be useful and protective as far as food is concerned, counter-argument for this stance as Alexander (1993) states it, “For some new form of packaging, designed to keep food fresh while in transit, the reduction in food waste may be much greater than the weight of the packaging” (as cited in Ackerman, 1997, p.1). However, it appears to be less noticeable.

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