Introduction

The food packaging market is thriving today with the growing demand for food products.

Meanwhile, it’s important to find quality packaging solutions, especially for food.

In this article, we’re going to cover the following topics so that you can sort out the reliable packaging from the many.

  • the packaging market
  • the importance of food packaging
  • food packaging requirements in Australia
  • food packaging innovations and solutions in the trend
  • and more

Take your time and check them all out below.

The food packaging market

As data reveals, every year there are billions of dollars spent on packaging food and other items.

And 60% of all packaging stuff contribute to food products.

Earlier in the 20th century, most foods come without much packaging. People weighed and measured them directly, and then placed in bags. Or collect them with the shoppers’ bag and carry home.

At that time, packaging was still a strange term for most people.

But today, packaging has become a massive and lucrative industry, given the increasing demand for food packaging products.

And often, it is the look of the packaging that persuades the customers to buy the food inside. Guess you might have a similar experience as well.

As a result, the food packaging industry is thriving currently.

Find more about the packaging market.

food packaging for chocolate

Why food packaging is important?

Because food packaging can help you with so many things you might not even realise before. A nice food packaging solution can:

Protect your food

Quality food packaging can protect your food from damage or contamination. On the other hand, food without proper packaging can bad for many factors, typically micro-organisms, air, moisture and toxins.

Many products, especially the food require more extra care than the other goods in many cases. They need protection against falling, crushing, and pushing during transport, the fruits for example.

In this case, a rigid package like a laminated container would definitely be a great helper. The container will make your fruits stay close together and protect them. As the saying goes, unity makes strength, this gives them enhanced strength against the force.

In the meantime, you need good food packaging solutions with nice performance against the climate. Factors like temperatures, light and humidity can all affect the shelf life of the food.

Make your food stand out

As we discussed above, there are times you buy the food because of their beautiful looking.

So, excellent packaging with creative designs can really make your food products stand out and boost your sales.

At the same time, the food packaging as a media itself can contain lots of information. That is to say, advertising on the packaging is another way to have customers identify your products among the many.

We believe you can recognise to forget the famous coke brands on the shelf. And the way their companies do the packaging just contribute a big part for that. The shapes, the logo, the colour and all other elements comprising the whole thing. The food packaging serves as part of the quality of your products today.

Ease the transport

When it comes to transport, the convenience to move is also important besides protection during the process.

Thus, a good solution for food packaging is easy to handle, such as moving and lifting.

At the same time, space also matters for transport. Sometimes, you just hope that box can fit into space and complete a full lorry load at a time. For cases like that, you’ll need packaging solutions that could tailor to your need. A well-designed food packaging can contain more products with the same materials and cost.

A packaging that saves space brings you money, given the increasing price for space today. In other words, you will save the cost of transport with suitable food packaging solutions.

Offer useful information

As you know, you can find plenty of useful information on food packaging.

The ingredients, use-by dates, manufacturing information and etc.

And the barcode as well, which is very important for shops and supermarkets. Today, we’re all used to the check-out process at the cashier. Remember the barcode scanner?

But think of the scenario, if there’s no barcode on it, how much more time are we going to spend? Too hard to imagine right? And the food packaging is the thing to display the barcode. We guess you rarely see a barcode on the food itself, don’t you?

All these factors lead to the growth of the food packaging demand.

Along with the increasing needs, there are requirements for food packaging.

Now let’s check the case in Australia.

Food Packaging_Roll Film

Safety and packaging standards in Australia

Who develops the standards for Australian food and food packaging?

FSANZ does. The independent agency founded by the Food Standards Australia New Zealand Act 1991, aka the FSANZ Act.

As part of the Australian Government’s Health portfolio, FSANZ develops food standards for the Australian and New Zealand food industries.

What are the food packaging requirements?

Food safety is always an issue worth our undivided attention.

It is important to make sure the packaging is safe for food products. If you’re doing a food business, the case matters more for you.

Find more details in the following content.

According to Standard 3.2.2 – Food Safety Practices and General Requirements, a food business must:

  • Use packaging materials that fit its intended purpose
  • Use material unlikely to cause food contamination
  • Make sure food safety during the packaging process and guarantee no contamination during the process

The risks during the packaging process

There are chances the food becomes unsafe due to food packaging mistakes. For instance, the following cases can damage the food quality.

  • some pollutants get into the food during the packaging process
  • hazardous bacteria infected the food from damaged packaging
  • the packaging debris or fragments break off and then enter into the food, typically plastic or glass pieces
  • poisonous substance from the unsafe packaging dissolves and stains the food

So, risks of food safety are common to see with food packaging of low quality. And food safety involves life safety, never save the several bucks on food packaging and trip your food business over.

When it comes to chemicals leaching, it can happen in specific conditions. For example, some of the packagings are safe in normal conditions, but they will become harmful when the situation changes.

Reduce the risks by choosing the right packaging solutions

Here are a few tips and principles for your choice:

  • always use food-grade and clean packaging
  • make sure the food packaging is complete and not damaged
  • buy from reliable suppliers like PrimePaclearn the ingredients of your food and double-check the packaging, make sure it is suitable
  • ask your packaging suppliers for certifications of their packaging products as the proof of food-safe quality
  • pay attention to the instruction and symbols on the packaging, and make sure the food packaging fits your needs

Use packaging with correct ways:

  • think further in advance about where to store the packaged food. And make sure the packaging solution is safe enough for the food
  • handle the packaging with care and clean hands
  • store the packaging in a clean place and double-check the environment to avoid damage
  • always use proper ways to clean and sanitise the packaging. And ensure the methods have no impact on food safety
  • always avoid re-using single-use packaging and reuse packaging only if safe for the food
  • use enhanced packaging solutions to avoid chemical leaching in the case of any risks
food packaging label

Food packaging labels

Since its establishment, FSANZ has set a bunch of food labelling standards for food safety in Australia. And the specific standards take their form in the Food Standards Code.

Besides Australia, these standards by FSANZ also apply to New Zealand.

The Food Standards Code covers the requirements for general labelling and information to display. And the requirements involve all food and tells specific application in various situations. For instance, requirements on food for retail sale, catering purposes, or intra-company transfer.

In the meantime, the Code also includes requirements for labelling and information applying to some specific food products only.

On the other hand, the requirements for food are also subject to fair trading laws and food laws. The 2 laws prohibit false, misleading or deceptive information in both Australia and New Zealand.

Why we need food labels?

Food labels provide us with information so that we have a better reference for buying the food, typically the following items:

  • the food description
  • ingredients of the food in detail
  • information for nutrition
  • use-by date or best before date
  • instruction like ways to store and prepare
  • warnings if the ingredients are likely to cause allergy

Requirements for food labelling

When it comes to the requirements for food labelling, the following information is necessary to display according to the Code by FSANZ. And that applies to food packages for retail sale and catering purposes.

Name or description of the food product

The name or description of the food must display on the food package labels. And the information should be clear enough so that you can identify it apart from the others.

And the prescribed name for the food must display on the packaging label of the food if applicable. In the cases of no prescribed name, the packaging label should contain information about the food name or description. It’s for the purpose to show the true nature of the food.

Besides, the packaging labels must tell the truth of the food. And manufactures are responsible for the correctness of the information. They should not display fake information or have it display misleadingly or deceptively.

Name and business address for suppliers of Australia or New Zealand

The food package labels should show the name and the Australian or New Zealand business address of the suppliers.

And the term “supplier” refers to the following roles:

  • packer
  • manufacturer
  • vendor (the business who sells the food)
  • the importer (the business that brings the food into Australia)

And the requirement of the business address worth our attention. The address MUST BE a PHYSICAL ADDRESS and NOT a POST OFFICE BOX.

Ingredient listing

The food packaging labels should list all of the following items unless with exemption:

  • ingredients (any substance, including all additives added to the food during the whole process from preparation, manufacture to handling the food)
  • compound ingredients (any ingredient comprising more than 1 ingredient, like egg noodles. Typically, egg noodles are made of flour, water and egg.)

And there are requirements for the displaying order of the ingredients and compound ingredients. Manufacturers must display them in descending order.

At the same time, the names of the ingredients should be detailed enough to describe them. And make sure they are correct as no misleading or deceptive information is acceptable.

The date marks

Pretty easy to understand, the food package should have a dark mark of either item below:

  • best before date. The date as a reminder of the best quality deadline. In other words, the food might remain safe to eat after that date. But the cost could be the loss of some quality.
  • use-by date. This date refers to the safety deadline for the food. That’s to say, if you eat the food after that date, it is risky for your health. And any food is not allowed to sell after the use-by date.

The date marks rules apply to all packaged foods with a shelf life of 2 years or less.

Lot identification

Lot identification can identify:

  • the production batch of this food
  • the place of packaging or production of food.

If there is a food safety problem, then this information will play an important role in the recall of products.

However, marking the date and supplier’s detailed address information usually meets this requirement.

Besides, some foods do not need to be labelled with batches, including:

  • ice cream/rock candy separate section
  • small package food. Batch identification is included when bulk packages or containers for sale are stored or displayed.
Directions for use or storage

If you don’t know the potential threat of certain foods to your health and safety. Then the food label of these products must include instructions for use and storage.

Follow these instructions to ensure food safety before use within the shelf life. For example, “refrigerate after opening” or “store away from sunlight.”

Nutrition information panel

The nutrition information sheet will give you a detailed introduction to the nutrient content of the food. It includes:

  • protein
  • energy (kilojoules or calories)
  • saturated fat
  • carbohydrate
  • sodium (salt)
  • sugars
  • fat

There is a standard format for this nutritional information, which shows the average nutrient content per serving and per 100 g (or 100 ml, if liquid) food. If you want to know more about standard 1.2.8 and nutritional information requirements, you can refer to FSANZ.

Percentage labelling

If the key ingredients are already mentioned in the food description. Then, the label of some packaged food must show the percentage of “characteristic” ingredients in the food.

For example, if there is a yogurt called strawberry yogurt, the producer must list the percentage of strawberries in the yogurt ingredient list.

If you want to know more about standard 1.2.10 – food ingredients and characteristics, you can refer to FSA Australia and New Zealand.

Country of origin

Food packaging labels must indicate the country in which the food is manufactured or produced, or specify that the product is made from local or imported raw materials.

Please note that this regulation does not apply to food produced or imported in New Zealand.

On July 1, 2016, the Australian government officially implemented the new country of origin food labelling system. Under the new system, the requirement of origin label belongs to Australian Consumer Law.

However, before the government enforces the new law on July 1, 2018, companies have two years to change food labels that meet the requirements of the new law. On July 1, 2018, the government adopted proposal No. p1041 to amend Codex Alimentarius and cancelled the original country of origin labelling requirements.

Is the country of origin label applicable to New Zealand?

In fact, in New Zealand, the government does not force producers to use country of origin labels. It is entirely up to the suppliers themselves whether to label them. Therefore, the supplier can choose not to display this information. There is an exception, however, for the country of origin of the wine supplier. At the same time, when the supplier provides the country of origin information, it must be accurate. There should be no mistakes in this step, otherwise, the government will punish the suppliers.

However, all foods must be labelled with the contact information of a New Zealand or Australian food supplier. So you can contact the supplier and ask for more information about the food.

Legibility requirements

To facilitate consumers to easily understand the label information on food packaging. The label must be simple, clear, comprehensive, and it must be in English. It is also important that the font size of the food warning statement must be greater than 3 mm high, and for small packages, it must not be less than 1.5 mm.

If you want to know more, the FSANZ user’s Guide on legibility requirements for food labels contains more letters that you can check out.

Other labelling requirements

In addition to the above several tags, the following will give you some additional tags. However, information on the following additional labelling requirements requires you to visit the FSANZ website (external website):

nutrition claims (Standard 1.2.8)

  • health claims (Standard 1.1.3, clause 1)
  • irradiated food (exposed to radiation) or food containing ingredients that have been irradiated (Standard 1.5.3)
  • vitamin and mineral content (Standard 1.3.2)
  • certain milk products and royal jelly (Standard 1.2.3, clauses 3)
  • genetically modified food (Standard 1.5.2)
  • infant formula labelling (Standard 2.9.1)
  • novel foods (Standard 1.5.1).
Exemptions from labelling requirements

Here are some of the less commonly used food labels:

  • Food without packaging
  • Inner packaging food. They are designed for sale only and generally have no outer packaging. But if there are separate parts of certain substances, people have to make oral or written statements
  • Food produced, packaged and sold on-site at a sales location.
  • Food packaged in the presence of customers
  • For whole or chopped fresh fruits and vegetables (except germinated seeds or similar products), customers can see the status and quality of fruits or vegetables through packaging.
  • According to the requirements of customers, provide packaged ready to eat food.
  • Food sold in fundraising.

Even if you produce food that doesn’t need to be labelled. The code also requires you to tell customers some information about food, either orally or in writing, at the time of sale.

Warning and advisory statements
Advisory statements

For certain foods or ingredients that may pose health risks to certain consumers, suppliers must provide advisory statements.

This kind of food or ingredients are:

  • If the food contains strong sweeteners, the supplier must indicate that the food contains phenylalanine. Because phenylalanine may affect the health of patients with phenylketonuria who have a rare genetic disease.
  • Guarana or guarana extract. For foods containing guarana or guarana extract (a natural source of caffeine), the supplier must indicate that the food contains caffeine.
  • As long as the food contains added phytosterols (which may reduce cholesterol absorption), the supplier must state the following on the label:

– when eating this product, people should match it with healthy eating habits,

– this product may not be suitable for children under five years of age and pregnant or lactating women, and

– Phytosterols do not provide additional benefits when ingested more than 3 grams per day.

  • For cola drinks containing caffeine, the supplier must indicate on the label that the product contains caffeine.
Warning statements

When people may not know that the food or ingredients pose a serious health hazard, the supplier must attach a warning statement to the food. For example, foods containing bee product royal jelly must have a warning statement. For example, a statement as easy as “this food contains royal jelly.” but clear enough to understand with no misleading or false information. According to reports, royal jelly may cause severe allergic reactions. In rare cases, it can lead to death, especially in patients with asthma and allergies. Therefore, this step is very important.

Full list of advisory statements

In addition, the code of food standards requires Advisory statements for certain products. Find the full list on https://www.foodstandards.gov.au

More about the labels

The names for the fish

Although the Food Standards Code has made detailed requirements for most of the food. But the Code has not defined the names for fish yet.

On the other hand, Standards Australia and the seafood industry have been working together to develop an Australian Fish Names Standard. This is going to provide guidance on standard fish names in Australia.

Find more details on http://www.fishnames.com.au/. You can search the fish names from their Fish Names Database.

When it comes to the fish names in New Zealand, visit the website of Ministry for Primary Industries.

So what can you do to make sure that you receive what you give?

Sometimes, when fishing or wholesale, you may choose the wrong fish.

However, this error is passed on to consumers through the supply chain. Therefore, to make sure you get the money you pay, you can choose a reputable fishmonger/restaurant.

If you’re worried that businesses may label fish the wrong way, you need to contact the supplier first. Besides, if you are not satisfied with the explanation or response of the merchant, you can contact the relevant law enforcement agencies below for further action:

  • If you are in Australia, please contact the Australian Competition and Consumer Council: www.accc.gov.au or call 1300 302 502 (free for Australia callers).
  • If you are in New Zealand, please contact the Ministry of primary industry www.mpi.govt.nz, or 0800 00 83 33 (free for New Zealand callers).
Allergic issues caused by the food

Food allergies are common to see in our daily life. If you’re allergic to some food, you might understand the feeling more than anyone else.

And the typical food allergens include wheat, soy, sesame seeds, nuts, eggs, milk, fish, and etc.

It might be easier to avoid them if you know them in advance. But there are times allergies occur to you even before you realize. The reason can be getting the wrong food into the stomach.

So, it’s of importance to display the potential allergens on the food package label.

Don’t forget that especially when you are running a food business. Some allergies can even kill.

So, always be careful when listing the ingredient information on the food package.

Ingredient lists and percentage labelling
Ingredient lists

The supplier must list the ingredients in descending order of weight.

This means that when suppliers produce products, the first component contributes the most and the last one contributes the least. For example, if sugar is at the top of the list, sugar accounts for the largest proportion of the product.

If the product contains added water, the supplier must list it in the batching table according to its feed weight. Also, any water lost during processing (e.g. water lost in the form of steam) should be noted by the supplier. The only exception is added water:

  • less than 5% of the finished product,
  • being part of the broth, brine or syrup in the ingredient list, or
  • for the reconstruction of dehydrated components.

Sometimes, foods contain compound ingredients. The producer mixes two or more ingredients. This is the compound ingredient. For example, ketchup can spaghetti, which is made of flour, eggs and water.

And the supplier must state all the ingredients that make up the composite components in the table.

Unless the amount of this compound is less than 5% of the final food. For example, one compound that may be less than 5% of the final meal is tomato sauce (made of tomatoes, peppers, onions, water and herbs) on a frozen pizza.

However, if the composition of the compound is a known allergen. No matter how much of this ingredient you use, you have to label the food package.

Percentage labelling

The supplier must label most packaged foods with the main ingredients or percentage of ingredients in the food. Then consumers can compare similar products.

The main ingredient of strawberry yoghurt is strawberry. The label says, for example, 9% strawberries. Another example of a typical ingredient is the cocoa solids in the chocolate. There are also foods, such as white bread or cheese, which may not have characteristic ingredients or characteristic ingredients. It’s all possible.

Nutrition, health and related claims

On January 18, 2013, a new standard to regulate nutrition and health claims on food labels and advertisements became law. Food companies must comply with the new standard (standard 1.2.7 – nutrition, health and related statements) until January 18, 2016.

However, if you want to learn more about the new standards and different types of claims, you can check out the documents mentioned above.

Health claims

High-level health claims must be food health relationships pre-approved by FSANZ. Currently, there are 13 pre-approved high-level health claims in the standard for food-health relationships.

However, food companies can also apply to FSANZ for prior approval of food-health relationships. And use this to support your own health claims. At the same time, it also allows enterprises to learn more about the application process.

However, food companies can also apply to FSANZ for prior approval of food-health relationships. And use this to support your own health claims. At the same time, it also allows enterprises to learn more about the application process.

Foods containing health claims must meet some of the requirements specified in the standards, including the NPSC. Food companies need to use an online calculator when determining the nutritional analysis score of food because it is very convenient and fast.

Then, other conditions in the standard must be met before a health declaration can be made.

In formulating standard 1.2.7, the government also included 183 food health relationships from the EU authorized health statement.

In addition, FSANZ has promised to consider another 32 EU authorized health claims. This is to determine if the relationship between these foods and health can also be included in the standard.

FSANZ is also reviewing the currencies for high-level health claims set out in standard 1.2.7.

Food Standards Australia and New Zealand have set up a high-level health claims commission. The committee is responsible for considering applications and recommendations for health claims.

Besides, to provide technical and scientific advice to itself, FSANZ has set up a scientific advisory group on health claims.

Self-verify: notifying established food-health relationships for general level health claims

If food companies can self-verify the food-health relationship, it can help enterprises to make general level health statements.

However, businesses need to self-certify food health relationships before they are declared on food labels or food advertisements.

At the same time, the company should inform FSANZ of this relationship.

Also, FSANZ maintains a list of food hygiene relationships. This is the public record of food companies. This suggests that these businesses choose to self-confirm food health relationships to support general level health claims.

However, FSANZ does not consider the advantages of informed food-health relationships in this way. And our role is limited to managing the notification process. In fact, FSANZ’s notice does not mean acceptance or confirmation of the relationship.

Also, a food business cannot use a relationship on another food business notification list. If a food business wishes to file a general health claim based on a listed relationship, it must conduct its own systematic review. And inform FSANZ of this relationship.

Who checks nutrition content claims and health claims on labels?

In Australia, state and territory agencies are responsible for the implementation and enforcement of food standards.

There is also the Australian Department of agriculture and water, which is responsible for importing food into Australia.

In New Zealand, the Ministry of primary industry (MPI) enforces food standards.

If you need to, you can contact Australian and New Zealand law enforcement agencies.

Sometimes these agencies check label statements. In addition, they sometimes respond to questions that draw their attention.

Food Standards Australia and New Zealand recognise that there are many new elements in the standard. At the same time, we are working closely with law enforcement agencies to assist in the implementation of the new standards.

Besides, the ISFR (Implementation Subcommittee for Food Regulation) provides guidance on how to comply with the nutrition, health and related claims standards. If necessary, you can refer to the guide to proper reporting – compliance with nutrition, health and related claims standards.

However, FSANZ does not recommend compliance with this practice. If you need to, you can hire a lawyer or consultant to provide compliance advice.

Some parts of Australia’s competition and consumer act 2010 and New Zealand’s fair trade act of 1986 also apply to nutrition and health claims.

And the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and the New Zealand Commerce Commission (NZCC) will then consider matters related to misleading or deceptive practices. For example, misleading statements, and they manage these behaviours separately.

Truth in labelling: measures, weights, and legibility
Truth in labelling

Fairtrade laws and food laws in Australia and New Zealand require food companies to label their packaging. The labels placed on the package by food enterprises shall not mislead consumers through false, misleading or deceptive statements.

Besides, in Australia, this legislation includes the Australian Consumer Act (ACL) contained in the competition and consumer act 2010, as well as the state and territory fair trade act and the food act.

In New Zealand, however, this legislation includes the food act 2014 and the Fair Trade Act 1986.

Then, the Australian Competition and Consumer Council (ACCC) implements the law of the competition and consumer act 2010. However, in New Zealand, the Commerce Commission is responsible for implementing the fair trade act of 1986.

Name or description of the food

The supplier must label its exact name or description on the package of the food. This can indicate the true nature of the food.

For example, “strawberry yogurt” should contain strawberries. If it’s strawberry yogurt, not real strawberry. Then the supplier should indicate on the label is strawberry yogurt.

Weights and measures

Weighing and measuring are one of the most important information about food. Therefore, the supplier must attach accurate weight and size information (quantity of food in the package) on the food.

Also, both the Australian National Institute of Metrology and the Department of consumer affairs of New Zealand regulate the declaration of weight and measurement.

Legibility requirements

Food standard specification requires that the label must be clear and eye-catching. And it is different from the background and uses English.

Next, the size of the text in the food warning statement must be no less than 3 mm high.

Also, unless on small packages, the type size must be at least 1.5 mm.

Food packaging innovations

With the growing global environmental pollution, we need to rethink the way that most of the food is packed.

Food packaging has become a major component of most household waste.

According to the EPA, the United States Environmental Protection Agency, nearly 45% of the waste in US landfills is wasted food and discarded packages. And many of those packages are food-related.

We should be aware that using sustainable food packaging is no longer just an option for individuals. Instead, it has become an urgent need to protect the global environment.

Many people are trying to reduce the amount of food packaging they bring into their houses.

But soon they will find that it’s not an easy task.

Food packaging is closely related to people’s life. If we want to reduce the amount of food packaging waste more effectively, joint efforts of all sectors are needed. Individuals should use less food packaging.

And also, other sectors of society, such as businesses, manufacturers, and political entities, have to play their roles. Only by joint efforts can society realize zero waste as soon as possible.

Innovations in sustainable food packaging are leading us to a further step to a sustainable life.

Meanwhile, we still have a long way to go for a fully sustainable goal.

And the good news is, more and more businesses are adopting new materials. At the same time, the government policies also help to accelerate the progress.

And PrimePac is one of these businesses with honour to pay our effort to a society with less waste.

Why do we need innovations in food packaging?

Most of the food we buy now need plastic wrapping and packaging. Plastic food packaging is very useful and convenient, right?

But its harm is also obvious. Plastic will bring the heavy cost to human being and the Earth.

Making plastic requires a large amount of limited and heavily polluting fossil fuels. Research by the Pacific Institute, a global water organization, provides some background.

In one year, the production of plastic for bottled water that Americans bought, consumed a lot of fossil fuels. These fossil fuels are equivalent to about 17 million barrels of oil. As we all know, the heavy use of fossil fuels will make global warming more seriously.

So, to deal with the climate crisis, it is important to reduce plastic use, especially the use of single-use plastics.

Moreover, the plastic issue has created some other issues. One of the famous is the pollution of water.

So, environmental organizations believe that recycling plastics is a way to deal with plastic waste. They encourage people to recycle plastics.

By recycling plastics, we can reduce the number of new plastics that will be made.

What’s more, we can move away from a throw-away society towards a circular society, balancing environmental and economic development.

But the fact is that recycling alone is not enough. It can only be a partial and incomplete solution.

Not enough just to recycle plastic food packaging

  • One of the reasons is that most plastics of food waste in our homes are not recyclable, such as some black plastic items. These plastics cannot be recognized by grading machines at recycling centres. So, it’s necessary to think of other ways to deal with these non-recyclable plastics.
  • The third reason is that recycling plastic costs much. It uses nearly double the energy, labour and machinery than simply to put the plastics in a landfill. Besides, all recycling has extra environmental costs. For example, trucks transporting plastics produce carbon emissions on the road.
  • One more reason, we can only recycle most plastics once or twice before they are down-cycled. Down-cycled means to be recreated into some lower value items. Recycling companies turn plastic into fabrics because plastics will not be recyclable after several uses. Obviously, fabrics have a higher value. It is more profitable to turn plastic into fabrics. But it worth our notice that some clothes made from plastic bottles can no longer be recyclable.

And when plastics enter into landfill, they will break apart over time. But the process will usually continue for centuries.

So, next time when you think that buying recyclable plastic items are environmental-friendly, please remember the recycling of plastics is usually a one-or-two-time process.

The bio-plastics thing

Many innovations in sustainable food packaging use the idea of bioplastics.

Bio-plastic, also called biodegradable plastic, is a kind of plastic which will break down over time. It is unlike traditional plastic polymers.

Such plastics can be broken down by some living organisms, such as bacteria. And researchers believe that bioplastics can be an effective solution to most of the problems of plastic waste.

As we mentioned just now, most plastics will not break down naturally in the environment or will take several centuries to break down.

So, the existence of traditional plastics will create a waste crisis that will last for generations. Compared with traditional plastics, bio-plastics take a very short time to break down.

Renewable Natural Bio-plastics or Synthetic Bio-plastics?

There are two types of biodegradable plastic.

One type is bio-plastics and the other type is biodegradable synthetic polymers.

Bio-plastics are made from renewable raw materials. On the other hand, the biodegradable synthetic polymers are made from petrochemicals. They contain biodegradable additives to make the break-down process faster.

You might feel confused about the terms “biodegradable” and “compostable”.

Biodegradable material can break down into some fragments, while a compostable material can break down into useful compost. So, a biodegradable plastic may remain inorganic compounds during the break-down process.

But a fully compostable plastics, on the other hand, will break down without leaving any inorganic compounds in the environment.

We have talked about the features of different types of bio-plastic. And the features determine whether the type of bio-plastic is the most eco-friendly and sustainable choice.

The Best Bio-Plastics:

Are fully compostable

Under the right conditions, bio-plastics can be entirely broken down by micro-organisms. Bio-plastics will be converted into carbon dioxide and water, which means that bio-plastics is biodegradable and even compostable. Starch-based bioplastic is an example. Such plastics will not harm the natural environment as traditional non-biodegradable plastics do.

Unfortunately, the synthetic polymers are imperfect yet. They will leave inorganic compounds in the environment. Our goal is to improve them, so that they will not leave inorganic compounds, just like true bio-plastics. We can fully combine compostable plastics with organic materials in a large amount of waste. It helps reduce the quantity of non-recoverable solid waste.

Use fully sustainable, eco-friendly, natural raw materials

A true, green bio-plastic must be a kind of entirely renewable agricultural resource. Ideally, its raw materials should be farming by-products. It uses land that is not nutritious enough for sustainable food production. Energy and water use of agriculture should also be considered. Compostable bio-plastic must be carbon neutral if it is produced by truly sustainable organic farming methods.

Manufacturers would like to use non-renewable fossil fuels to produce synthetic plastics. It harms the natural environments a lot and also contributes to global warming.

We think that the best bio-plastics can be carbon neutral and will degrade completely. But the fact is that some biodegradable plastics will still release damaging compounds into the environment. What’s more, the process of producing a kind of plastics, the energy, land and water involved, are all important. So, before you decide which is the best bio-plastics, pay attention to these factors.

Although bio-plastics have many advantages, we should keep in mind that even the best bio-plastics have a downside. For example, the best bio-plastics will release methane, a potent greenhouse gas, in landfills. Therefore, the best choice is not to use plastics or process natural bio-plastics by a small household composting system.

Compostable series are available on PrimePac now. Contact us and get a quote.

Food packaging solutions in the trend

To protect the environment, a good way to reduce the carbon footprint is to choose environmentally friendly packaged takeout food and drinks.

Let’s take a look at the following raw materials that can be used to make fully compostable polymers, which will help to better understand the innovation of bioplastics:

Food packaging with eco-friendly plastic

Potato starch, corn starch and other first-generation bioplastics feedstocks

Several plant materials can provide cellulosic materials for bioplastics used in the packaging of the global food system.

Also, a series of potato starch, corn starch and other plants have been used to replace synthetic plastics in food packaging.

However, the materials face criticism because packaging food with food-grade products means taking food from people and animals. With increasing competition for land, it has been criticized that the use of this material may be immoral in the face of global food shortages.

So, the long-term use of land to produce packaging rather than food might remain unsustainable.

Bamboo bioplastics for food packaging

According to the research conducted by INBAR, if people produce well, we can carry out a 100% bio base and complete biodegradation of bamboo plastic substitutes.

What’s more, bamboo-based materials can play an important role in the global bioplastics industry. People can produce about 2 million tons of bamboo-based materials every year.

One example of the second generation of bioplastics is bamboo bioplastics. Growers produce second-generation materials from non-food crops (cellulosic materials).

There are other examples, such as wood, awn, switchgrass, etc. The second generation of raw materials also includes wastes from the first generation of raw materials, such as waste vegetable oil.

Land use is the key to the sustainability of second-generation raw materials. We can’t use land suitable for food production to grow these bioplastic materials, which will affect food production.

So, we have to choose a land that is suitable for food production. And they should be materials that we can grow sustainably, with as little land, water and other resources as possible.

Algae/seaweed feedstocks for bioplastic food packaging

Another innovation in bioplastic food packaging is the use of algae/seaweed. We call algae the third-generation raw material of bioplastics.

They have a higher yield and higher efficiency than the above materials. And they don’t need fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides or land. Besides, like the materials mentioned above, they are naturally biodegradable.

However, it is difficult to use algae as raw materials of bioplastic food packaging on a large scale.

First of all, using seaweed or unicellular algae to make bioplastics is more expensive than other bioplastics.

Second, they are not widely used, and researchers need more information to study their applications.

However, in the future, algae-based bioplastics may revolutionize the bioplastics industry. They may play an important role in the development of food packaging.

Mushroom feedstock for bioplastic food packaging

The potential bioplastics base material we can use is not just plant materials.

Interestingly, we can use mushrooms and fungi to make bioplastics. At present, mushrooms and fungi have become another way to study biopolymers.

Besides, people have now replaced polystyrene with mushroom-based materials. Fungi may also have some other applications in the future.

Of course, bioplastics are not the only alternative to food packaging.

Now more and more people are doing research on food packaging with sustainable materials. Businesses and manufacturers are becoming more and more creative when packaging food with other sustainable materials.

For example, leaves, such as banana leaves, can be simply used to wrap vegetables, etc. Our innovation in food packaging materials may also revolve around reducing the total amount of packaging required.

Other eco-friendly food packaging options

Kraft paper

People can recycle 100% of the natural brown kraft paper containers. Because they are compostable and biodegradable.

Also, people use kraft paper to make food packaging has two flip and tray styles. They are simple and fashionable.

Therefore, when the store is using kraft paper food packaging box. Customers and passers-by will immediately know that you are an environmentally friendly organization.

Palm leaf plates and bowls

Palm leaf packaging is very suitable for mobile food trucks or mobile food stalls. There, customers are most likely to consume food or drinks near the food supply area.

Palm leaf plates and bowls are fashionable to take out packaging options. It’s suitable for festivals, fairs, markets and any kind of activity because the food there is on-site. Palm leaf packaging is made from 100% renewable and compostable leaves and water.

Thus, the palm leaf package does not contain any harmful toxins and will degrade naturally within two months after use.

Eco-sugarcane

Ecological bagasse sugarcane containers are 100% biodegradable and compostable. Most importantly, it’s affordable, not as expensive as bioplastics made from seaweed.

What’s more, it has a variety of styles. This includes clamshell, a tray with pet cover and soup bowl. Sugarcane packaging is made of bagasse, which is the pulp of sugarcane after juice extraction.

They are non-toxic and durable. They are very environmentally friendly materials.

You can evaluate each green takeaway packaging option to determine which style is best for your business. Just to remind you, you don’t have to choose only one style of packaging. In other words, you can mix and match different styles of packaging according to your needs.

There is no doubt that your customers will support you in reducing waste and protecting the environment.

More about eco-friendly packaging on Why Use Eco-friendly Packaging for Your Online Business.

kraft paper package for food packaging

Sustainable packaging

Besides eco-friendly packaging solutions, sustainable packaging is another talking point in the packaging industry in Australia.

Sustainable packaging is the development and use of packaging which results in improved sustainability.

(source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sustainable_packaging)

In other words, it means packaging with zero/less impact on the environment. Typically, recyclable, compostable, and reusable packaging. And it is a further step of eco-friendly packaging.

Find more about sustainable packaging on Sustainable packaging industry in 2020.

What can we do as citizens in the globe?

To reduce the amount of food packaging we take home, we can make some changes. For example, we can:

  • Grow at least some of our food to prevent food shortages due to the use of food packaging.
  • Buy local, fresh, organic produce whenever possible. Instead of buying processed, pre-packaged foods, cook your own fresh ingredients.
  • When shopping, we bring our own shopping bags instead of using plastic bags in the store. Similarly, when we buy takeout food, we also bring our own containers to hold the food.
  • Before you go shopping, make a list of what you want to buy; when you go shopping, but according to the list. After purchasing the items on the list, check out to avoid impulse shopping and shopping.
  • Replace retail purchases with wholesale goods, or shop in zero-waste stores as much as possible.

Conclusion

A quick review of the contents above. We’ve discussed the following things in this article:

The packaging is important because nice packaging solutions can protect your food, make your food stand out, ease the transport, and offer useful information.

The requirements for food packaging in Australia, including safety and packaging standards, and the detailed requirements for food packaging labels.

Food packaging innovations are greatly in need. And recycling is not enough to solve the problem while bio-plastic is more friendly to the environment.

We also talked about the trendy food packaging solutions today. That includes the eco-friendly plastic family members: plant starches, bamboo bioplastics, algae/seaweed feedstocks and mushroom feedstock. And other eco-friendly food packaging options such as kraft paper, palm leaf plates and bowls, and eco-sugarcane.

Besides, we also talked about one of the major talking points in the industry: sustainable packaging.

And what we can do as citizens in the globe.

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