Plastics save food and resources

EXPO 2015 in Milan, with its core theme "Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life”, looked at innovative solutions to reduce waste of food and to feed a growing world population. Around 1.3 billion tons of food is wasted every year all over the world. To fight this waste of resources, it is inter alia necessary to use the most suitable technology and material to save food.  

Plastics, and particularly plastics packaging, provide numerous solutions to bring food in high quality and best sheltered to the consumers, thereby ensuring less waste, less energy consumption and less resources used. Here are some examples for innovative plastics packaging showing the sustainable benefits of this material and its contribution to reduce food waste.

  • Less food waste
    One of the reasons behind food losses in developing countries is the lack of appropriate packaging and transportation solutions to transport food from farm to fork. In Europe, only 3% of all products get lost, compared to 40% in developing countries.

    Photo: ©FAO/Asim Hafeez
  • Extended shelf life
    Food is kept fresher for longer using plastics packaging. The shelf-life of beef can be extended by five to ten days, or even longer, when using the most advanced plastics packaging solution.
  • Hygiene and safety
    Plastics protects against contamination of food and provide a barrier against microbes, moisture and UV rays. The packaging also prevents physical damage. This is not only, but also very important for the transport of sensitive fruits like raspberries.
  • Sustainable choice
    Plastics packaging means more with less: It is often lighter than alternative materials and therefore helps to save transport costs and resources. It is also very resistant to moisture, heat or cold and therefore eases storage and distribution. 

    Photo: ©Krones AG
  • Too valuable to throw away
    Plastics packaging retains its value even beyond its end-of-life. It can be recycled into new products or recovered as energy and thereby saving fossil fuels. 
  • Saving resources
    Plastics offer the same or improved performance with significantly less material mass per functional unit compared to alternative materials, thereby saving energy, fuel and resources. If food was packed using other materials than plastics, the related energy consumption would double and greenhouse gas emissions would nearly triple. 
  • Today’s innovation
    In the German Pavilion "Fields of Ideas”, a new generation of organic photovoltaic modules embedded in plastics films generate sustainable energy for the building and therefore saves resources. This innovative technology opens new opportunities for architecture: soon there might be energy producing façades in urban centres, sparing agricultural areas which today are used for solar energy extraction.  

    Photo: ©Schmidhuber + Partner GbR
  • Future innovation
    The first commercial manufacturing plant has now opened that captures CO2 emissions for the production of plastics. Researchers are now bringing to the market a technology to breakdown non-recyclable polymers into feedstock for the production of new virgin polymers and other products, saving natural resources like gas and oil.

    Photo: ©Bayer MaterialScience AG
Less food waste
Extended shelf life
Hygiene and safety
Sustainable choice
Too valuable to throw away
Saving resources
Today’s innovation
Future innovation

Related information

Plastics Packaging:
Born to protect

Climate Protection Report

- Packaging Study

in English

in French

in German

Did you know ?
  • Main countries of Europe will save at least 78.000 tons of plastics per year if the produced pens were made from recycled plastic.