BY GAIL BARNES
This recent headline in the Guardian’s sustainable business section really says it all: “we can’t go on as we are: why sustainability is the big issue of our time.” So it’s not surprising that a new report from the Foodservice Packaging Institute (FPI) describes sustainability as driving foodservice packaging, or that a study released by PMMI at more or less the same time has identified a “stronger influence of recycling and environmental issues” as one of three global packaging trends.
The 2015 Trends Report from the FPI highlighted industry opinions that focused predominately on environmentally friendly packaging and customisation techniques to differentiate products. The report, which is in its seventh year, looked for common themes found throughout the foodservice packaging value chain – from raw material suppliers, packaging manufacturers through to distributors and operators.
Compostable packaging receives “overwhelming number of mentions”
In the FPI report, environmentally friendly or sustainable packaging remains a long-term overall trend. Specifically however, compostable packaging was mentioned in an overwhelming number of responses in the report. Other trends include the shift to a more natural look through the use of “Kraft” paper over bleached paper to promote the belief that “brown is the new green”.
“When it comes to foodservice packaging and the materials used to manufacture them, interest in ‘sustainable’, ‘green’ or ‘environmentally friendly’ options continue to be popular,” said Lynn Dyer, FPI president. “What’s notable this year is the overwhelming number of mentions related to compostable packaging. We create this Trends Report each year to help our members understand what’s driving sales so they can take advantage of these opportunities and support the changing needs of their customers.”
Compostable packaging for foodservice
Fast food brands are increasingly moving to an approach that includes both healthier meal and drink choices for kids and adults as well as healthier choices for the planet in terms of sustainable packaging. Increased use of the How2Recycle label could assist consumers in recycling fast food packaging materials, while more sustainable packaging could include the replacement of chemical treated or waxed wrappers with functional, fully renewable compostable alternatives.
Compostable flexible packaging could divert foodservice packaging from landfill. According to Daphna Nissenbaum, the CEO of Tipa, a company that manufactures compostable flexible packaging, “The infrastructure is there – we just have to integrate into it. I believe that in the future the only place for flexible packaging will be in the food waste stream, and this is where it ought to be. Get into the compost system, decompose, and go back to nature. In this future world the piles of plastic that we use for packaging we disappear within a short time. The world will take care of its waste.”
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2019