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Flexible packaging is unique in that’s its sustainable characteristics come from producing less waste in the first place. By choosing flexible packaging over more traditional packaging formats such as glass, rigid plastic, metal and cardboard, you are already taking steps towards reducing food waste, greenhouse gasses and excess energy consumption.

 

Reducing Food Waste

Table showing the difference in shelf life achieved by food products using flexible versus traditional packagingAccording to the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), An estimated 1.3 billion tonnes, or roughly 30% of global food production, is lost or wasted every year. Generally, when food waste ends up in landfill it produces methane – a potent greenhouse gas which is 21 times more harmful to the environment than carbon dioxide. This methane production accounts for around 10% of the total greenhouse gas emissions per year. Flexible packaging has the ability to extend the shelf life of food products. By integrating specifically chosen barriers to the material laminate, you can extend your product shelf life dramatically. Alongside its resealable features, gas flushing technology and portion control properties, it’s is a great solution to reducing food waste.

 

Reducing Energy Consumption

table highlighting the difference in energy consumption when producing different packaging typesFlexible packaging uses less energy to produce compared to traditional rigid packaging options. Due to its flexible nature, it holds more like for like product volume compared to traditional packaging. Less packaging means optimized energy consumption which in turn leads to lower operating costs. At its end of life, traditional flexible packaging is sent for incineration. With the waste-to-energy (WTE) trend becoming a more viable end-of-life option for flexible packaging materials, packaging converters are burning flexible packaging waste to generate energy which can be pumped back into their manufacturing process.

 

 

 

Reducing CO2 Emissions

infographic showing the number of trucks required to deliver glass jars versus flexible packaging

 

Flexible Packaging is extremely lightweight. On average, one plastic pouch is 35 times lighter than its glass jar counterpart and due to its flexible nature, has a higher product-to-packaging ratio holding more like for like volume compared to traditional packaging. Since it often ships flat or in rolls instead of fully formed and empty like bottles or cans, flexible packaging requires between 15-25 fewer trucks to ship the same amount of packaging. 25 fewer delivery trucks equate to approximately 85g less CO2 per delivery omitted into the atmosphere.

 

 

Sustainable materials

Taking the concept of flexible packaging and the environment a step further, material manufacturers are now introducing more sustainable bio-based, paper or widely recyclable laminates as an alternative to traditional mixed plastic laminates. Where before, these bio-based materials were unable to compete with standard plastic in terms of protecting the product being packed, advancements now see brands benefiting from the advantages of traditional flexible packaging with a lower impact on the environment.

three sustainable flexible packaging material options

 

In part two of this blog series, we will be talking through the different sustainable material options for flexible packaging. in the meantime, you can view our sustainable packaging range here.

 

Thanks for reading,

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