Earth DayFlexible Packaging takes a big PR hit, but even more around Earth Day. And why not? It’s an easy target when we see the images of plastic in the ocean the size of a state, or the trash alongside any street in the U.S. But when was the last time you actually ate everything in the fridge before it went bad or expired? If you’re like the majority of people around the globe, it’s probably been a long while. We get it. There’s always at least one banana in the bunch that just doesn’t make it. But, over time, those bananas (or apples, meat, leftover pasta, etc.) really start to add up. Packaging plays an important role in preventing food waste.

The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that one-third (1.3 billion tons) of food grown and produced across the world goes to waste. To put that in perspective on a smaller scale, the Natural Resources Defense Fund reports that Americans let nearly 40 percent of edible food go to waste every single year. Of that 40 percent, the EPA claims 95 percent winds up in landfills. If you’re not big on numbers, we can simplify that pretty easily: Humans waste A LOT of food.

To make matters worse, we’re chucking tons, both literally and figuratively, of food items and packaging into the garbage bin when, in many cases, they can be composted or recycled.

But, don’t guiltily cross off half your grocery list or commit yourself to a life of lugging around Mason jars through the store to stock up on bulk items just yet. Believe it or not, we have some good news: It’s entirely possible for you to keep your cupboards — and bellies — full while also maintaining a clear conscience with a little help from flexible packaging.

Thanks to advancements in flexible packaging technology, consumers get more product for their buck while also cutting down on their overall environmental footprint. This happens in a variety of ways. For one, the materials packaging companies are using are more sustainable than ever before. At Label Technology, we can package your product using hydrocarbon-based materials or certified compostable materials. If you’re looking for films, we can provide you with ones that are sourced from renewable materials or that are recyclable.

Another way flexible packaging helps prevent food waste is by extending the shelf life of products. Looking for coffee? Research from PTIS suggests that you’ll be better off grabbing beans or grounds that come in a stand-up pouch rather than a rigid plastic container. Because the packaging is slimmer and formed to better fit your product, you’ll actually get more. This way, you’re paying for the product and not the hefty tub. The pouch can also keep your product fresher for longer because it reduces the amount of outside elements, like air, that come in contact with it. Plus, the sleeker, more eco-friendly packaging is easier to dispose of than bulkier items once you’re done. It’s a win-win.

Even if you can’t recycle something, there’s a strong chance that the materials used are still more sustainable than other packaging techniques on the market. For instance, many non-recyclable pouches are still considered sustainable because they cut down on the amount of CO2 emissions used in production, increase the ratio of product to package, and reduce the number of store space per unit. This makes it easier to fit more product in a truck or shipping container, reducing the overall emissions and energy wasted in transportation.

You might think that more packaging equals more waste. This isn’t necessarily true. Flexible packaging allowed for companies to create more sensible portion sizes that can be eaten before an expiration date, from single-serve bags of nuts to multi-serving pouches of granola. Not every household is the same, so why cater to them as if they are?

If you’d like to learn more about how Label Technology can help your business play a role in reducing food waste, contact us by phone or email. We’re committed to making the world a healthier and more environmentally-friendly place.