Sustainable produce packaging debate far from wrapped up

Shannon Boase and Ian Anderson of CKF.

Shannon Boase and Ian Anderson of CKF.

“This story of recycling is the wrong subject. You want to make the grower earn money and monetize the product.”

Before he rushes off to a meeting, this remark from Massimo Bellotti of French plastic packaging company Groupe Guillin shows the conflict at play between the commercial interests of the fresh produce industry and a tide of anti-plastic sentiment sweeping across the globe.

In the words of Will Mercer of British company Coveris, technical advances in plastic packaging have extended shelf life and improved hygiene by warding off microbial threats while also substantially cutting food waste and the associated environmental footprint.

“But the big bit that we actually forgot was to bring the consumer along,” Mercer said during a talk at Fruit Logistica in Berlin last month. 

Grass paper greenliner

Grass paper greenliner

So where exactly have consumers been left behind on this journey? And how can the fresh produce and packaging industries get them back on board while also responding to shifting preferences towards more environmentally-friendly solutions? 

The cold turkey approach to plastic adopted by a section of society and retail will undoubtedly help alleviate the gargantuan problem of plastic islands floating around the world’s oceans, but a real solution needs to be systemic and involve the plastic companies themselves.

In this special feature, we take a look at the challenges of making ‘green’ packaging affordable and accessible, the competing environmental interests of plastic waste versus food waste, and the innovators harnessing new materials for the shopping aisle.

Article Highlights:

  • Compostable, biodegradable, recyclable
  • A plastic packaging industry perspective
  • Sustainable Packaging in practice – a matter of execution and willpower
  • Food waste versus plastic waste
  • Could grass paper solutions be the next frontier?

Article by Fresh Fruit Portal