Nearly 40 per cent of plastics produced globally is used to pack food and drinks.
Every day, a huge number of plastics is used to pack groceries, as containers, straws, plastic cutlery, food takeaways and deliveries.
Despite its convenience, most food packaging is designed to be single use and is not recycled, thus bringing harm to the environment.
Why do we need to invest in sustainable food packaging?
A 2019 study commissioned by the World-Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) showed that Malaysia ranks second in Asia for annual per capita plastic use.
And while plastic is convenience, the packaging materials can bring harm to the environment as well as to the food we consume.
For instance, chemicals can be released from plastic containers when hot products that are placed in them, and in turn into our bodies.
So, to reduce environmental footprint of packed food and deliver sustainable products and services at the same time, sustainable packaging is unavoidable.
How does technology play a role in sustainable food packaging?
Many companies use technology to help them “go green.”
By using robotics and digitizing, companies in the food industry are able to find alternatives to plastics and other harmful packaging to the environment.
The aim of these sustainable packaging is to make them easy to recycle, reuse, compost, or biodegrade and thus, have a minimal environmental footprint.
The advancements in technology and new innovative solutions are being developed to increase efficiency and is the key to solve waste problem.
Global trends in sustainable food packaging
As more people are becoming more environmentally conscious, this leaves businesses to no choice but to embrace sustainability in their packaging.
These days, an increasing number of companies and start-ups are investing time, energy and resources to develop incredibly innovative solutions to classic food packaging materials by making them sustainable.
For instance, Mexico-based BIOFASE successfully developed a unique technology to turn avocado pits into biodegradable products. Instead of disposing of it, the company collects pits and turns them into bioplastic.
British-based Frugalpac developed a technology to replace glass with cellulose-fibre bottles for wines, sake, and spirits. The so-called Frugal Bottle is made from 94% recycled paperboard and it is five times lighter than glass.
Cornstarch-based packaging has been proven to be an excellent biodegradable alternative to styrofoam and plastic containers.
Thailand-based Universal Biopack produces bamboo and cassava-based packaging for restaurants and manufacturer to replace Styrofoam and plastic boxed and bags.
Bamboo is biodegradable and compostable within two to six months and is said to releases 35 per cent more oxygen into the atmosphere than the same volume of trees.
It is also biodegradable and 100% compostable within two to six months, it also releases 35 per cent more oxygen into the atmosphere than the same volume of trees.
In relation to this, Sarawak is embarking on commercial bamboo plantation projects in efforts to support the development of various bamboo-related industries such as charcoal, pharmaceutical, cosmetic, textile, pulp and paer, food, handicraft as well as other products such as bamboo ply, strand woven bamboo and glued-laminated bamboo.
In addition to bamboo products, perhaps Sarawak may also embark in using bamboo can also be used as an alternative material for food packaging?
Aside from embracing the sustainable green living, this is also in line with the Post COVID-19 Development Strategy (PCDS) 2030 that target’s the State’s sustainable green economy by 2030.