Sixty-three per cent of global packaging across the food, beverage, beauty, home care and pet food industries is currently made from plastic, according to Euromonitor data.
“As consumers become increasingly sensitive to issues of plastic waste, the proportion of those willing to pay more for packaged food and fresh food which is environmentally conscious or eco-friendly continues to increase,” writes head of packaging research at Euromonitor Rosemarie Downey.
However, plastic packaging is plays a crucial role in maintaining food safety and reducing food waste by extending shelf life.
According to Downey, it is important not overlook plastic’s valuable contributions.
"Rather than a wholesale ‘plastic-free’ goal, perhaps a ‘plastic waste-free’ world should be the goal by adopting a circular economy approach," she said.
This includes infrastructure for optimized waste management, recycling facilities and a greater consumer understanding of what to do with plastic after using it.
Swiss packaging company SIG, for instance, recently rolled out a program in Brazil where it offered residents of Curitiba city food products in exchange for their recyclable waste, such as PET bottles, hard plastic and soft plastic like bubble-wrap.
“We know it will only be possible to increase packaging recycling rates with the support of consumers,” said Isabela De Marchi, SIG’s sustainability coordinator in South America. “The partnership […] is helping us show people the value of recycling on a personal level, as well as bringing wider environmental and socio-economic benefits.”