• Posted 07-Jun-2021

European scientists unite to shape the future of food packaging

Over 220 scientists from all over Europe created a forum to discuss and develop environmentally friendly food packaging for the future. This meeting place aims to reduce plastic waste and improve the current available packaging in terms of sustainability, food safety, and food shelf-life, and thus help Europe achieve its climate goals.

In Europe, about 40% of the plastic produced is used for packaging, and about 40% of this plastic is recycled. To decrease the impact of packaging on the carbon footprint of food products, the industry has initiated a series of measures, which include removal of excessive packaging and packaging weight reduction.

This new network, called Circul-a-bility, which stands for: Rethinking packaging for circular and sustainable food supply chains of the future, is led by Milena Corredig, professor at Aarhus University: “One main difficulty is the differences in the current use of packaging in different European countries” she says, “identifying and harmonising these differences is our first aim.”

Climate change and plastic pollution have increased the pressure on governments and companies to reduce their CO2 emissions and look for alternatives to current single-use plastic packaging. Circul-a-bility COST Action has been created with the aim to address and solve these problems.

Circul-a-bility is centred around food items such as fruits and vegetables, dairy products, meat and fish, and confectionary, “making food the focus allows us to make a difference where it matters” says Giancarlo Colleli, Vice Chair of the COST Action and Professor for Agriculture and Food in Foggia, Italy. “Up to now scientists have often looked at single aspects of food packaging, for instance developing biodegradable packaging, but have largely ignored how this fits into the overall process of making and distributing plastic packaging on the market.”, he adds.

Launched in October 2020, this four-year European Union-funded programme, includes a variety of different disciplines, ranging from food, material, and design scientists in academia and industry, to politicians and policymakers. Taking advantage of the European-wide presence of its members from 34 countries, ranging from Slovenia, to Greece, and Portugal, possible solutions and action plans will be drawn for a future with sustainable food packaging.

Branching out

The First International Conference in sustainable food packaging is planned next September 2021 to showcase this global approach of food packaging. The Circul-a-bility COST Action also organises webinars on the topics of sustainability, packaging, supply chains, and material science. Follow this link to register.

Source: COST Action News (https://bit.ly/3fWN4t4)