Sustainability

Sustainability Committee

WPO believes that packaging contributes to Sustainability. Packaging preserves the product and thus all the environmental efforts put into its production and delivery. This is well documented in several position papers issued by the WPO. The packaging industry has also been looking at source reduction, both in production and the packaging itself. During the past 20 years remarkable achievements have been made, thus making packaging even more environmentally efficient. Well optimized packaging provides environmental benefit.

A lot of emphasis has been put on the packaging waste issue. In the developed countries much of the collection and recycling issues have been resolved, but the littering issue is unfortunately a social problem which cannot be solved by any collection system.

Good packaging provides hygienic food around the world. The packaging industry has also made efforts in chemical safety to meet stringent regulation.

WPO also supports the Global Protocol for Packaging Sustainability, GPPS 2.0, which gives excellent guidance in performing any environmental comparison.

The Sustainability Award, judged and produced by WPO is a step in the right direction in rewarding new innovation supporting the development of even more sustainable packaging.

Introduction

One third of all food is either wasted or lost – an amount that would be enough to meet global food needs. A growing world population needs sufficient food. Over 840 million people are starving today. To feed them adequately, food production under the existing conditions needs to increase significantly. This would require more arable land, more water consumption, more animal feed and more fertilizers and have significant adverse effects on the environment.

Curbing and minimizing food loss and waste can considerably limit the scope of additional resource requirements because a quarter of the food that is currently lost and wasted would already be sufficient to feed the starving world population. About 1.3 billion tons of food is actually thrown away each year, either because it spoils due to incorrect storage or inappropriate transport methods or because it no longer meets the standards of the trade and consumers. Furthermore, a lot of food is not eaten by consumers because, for example, the quantities purchased by them are too large. Studies have shown that in less developed countries food tends to be lost at pre-harvest, harvest and initial handling phase. With increasing development food waste tends to move up the distribution chain to retail and consumption level. Here food is more likely thrown away when still edible.

Using existing capacities is in every respect a more expedient alternative here. This benefits the environment too: the carbon footprint of food lost worldwide each year is the equivalent of about 3.3 gigatons of CO2. Compared with the emissions of individual countries, only the carbon footprint caused each year by the USA respectively China is higher.

FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) presented two fundamental studies on the scale and reasons for food loss in different regions of the world in 2011. These studies highlighted the role of packaging in preventing such loss in order to gain further understanding on how to secure a global resource-conserving food supply. An essential element is the use of expertise from the packaging and process industry. Efficient logistics are the key to minimizing food loss effectively on route to trade and consumers. This includes state-of-the-art processing methods as well as intelligent packaging systems which ensure comprehensive protection.

Possible packaging solutions:

  • Appropriate packaging
  • Appropriate materials
  • Modern packaging such as active and intelligent packaging
  • Portion sized packaging
  • Re-closable packaging
  • Convenient packaging
  • Hygienic processing and packaging

WPO World Star “Save Food Packaging” Special Award

In cooperation with Save Food Initiative and Interpack, WPO organizes a World Star “Save Food Packaging” Special Award to highlight the role of packaging in preventing food losses and food waste. We call for smart and sustainable packaging concepts to improve the supply of food to a growing global population.

Thank you to our sponsors

WPO Members include: