Effective packaging has a major part to play in the journey of food from garden to plate. Done well, this protects fresh product from damage and helps to prolong shelf life. The packaging also has a role in ensuring fruit and vegetables look attractive to the consumer so that they sell before going off.
This is important when around a third of the food produced in the world for human consumption isn’t eaten.
Fruits and vegetables have the highest wastage levels of all. When fresh produce doesn’t deliver on its goal (i.e. eaten), all the land water, fertilise, transport and human labour resources that went into getting it to the supermarket, is wasted.
Consumers are being asked to become more environmentally aware than ever before, especially in their choice of packaging. However, some forms of fruit and vegetable packaging are less desirable than others, for a number of very good reasons:
Making paper and cardboard is the third largest industrial use of energy on the planet. Paper and cardboard packaging product involve substantial amounts of energy. Crushing a tree down into small fibres, mixing the wood pulp into slurry and then passing the set mass through huge rollers require enormous quantities of power.
Pulp and paper manufacturing pollutes the air, water and land. Paper recycling is also a source of pollution, due to the sludge produced during the de-inking process.
Plastic takes less energy to manufacture but is made from crude oil, which is a non-renewable resource. Plastic bags, for example, use 40% less energy during production and generate 80% less solid waste compared to paper bags.
New Zealand has a problem with mixed plastic recycle codes 3 to 7. Non-recyclable plastic is a problem in landfills and as litter in the environment because it takes a long time to decompose. The average time for a plastic bottle to completely degrade is at least 450 years.
RPET Clear – Packaging that is both recycled and recyclable
In today’s food retail work, one fruit and vegetable packaging material is standing out for responsible consumers who want their tomatoes and strawberries fresh and in good condition, without the guilt of environmentally-unfriendly packaging – RPET.
Clear RPET is made from recycled PET, is safe, strong, transparent and versatile, as well as lightweight and shatter resistant. What’s more, it can be recycled many times before no longer being suitable for food and drink containers. At the end of its useful life as a packaging material, RPET can be turned in to more permanent products, such as fabric, guttering and doormats.