As the global focus on sustainability grows, businesses across New Zealand are increasingly seeking sustainable practices—particularly with food packaging.
One significant challenge remains. There’s a trade off between achieving extended product shelf life versus using mixed plastics, which makes it difficult for consumers to recycle.
However, recent advancements in technology are paving the way for more recyclable and eco-friendly packaging solutions. In this article, we explore five ways to make food packaging better for the planet.
1. Minimise mixed plastics
Mixed plastics, such as multi-layered packaging, have traditionally posed major challenges for recyclers because it’s difficult to separate the various plastic layers. But there are ways to reduce mixed plastics in food packaging.
Instead, opt for mono-material packaging made from a single type of plastic, which is easier to recycle. This allows for a more streamlined recycling process and reduces the overall environmental impact.
By designing packaging that is easier to separate, it becomes easier for recyclers to sort and recycle different materials. This approach involves reducing the number of different materials used, using materials that are more easily separated, and designing packaging that is more easily dismantled.
2. Explore biodegradable and compostable alternatives
Consider incorporating biodegradable and compostable packaging materials into your operations.
Biodegradable plastics, derived from renewable resources, can break down naturally over time, reducing waste and minimising environmental harm.
Compostable packaging, on the other hand, is designed to decompose in industrial composting facilities.
These alternatives offer promising solutions to the challenges posed by traditional plastics and can significantly contribute to a circular economy.
We offer a range of biodegradable and compostable films for all kinds of food packaging. View our range here or ask one of our packaging specialists for advice. (link to Biodegradable and Compostable Category page)
3. Embrace innovative packaging technologies
The development of new technologies is changing food packaging, making it more sustainable and recyclable.
For instance, some companies are now using laser-marking techniques instead of using labels or stickers, reducing the need for additional materials and making the packaging easier to recycle.
Other innovations include water-soluble packaging films and edible coatings, which can further minimise waste and enhance recycling capabilities.
4. Opt for recyclable materials
Prioritise packaging materials that are widely accepted and easily recyclable in New Zealand. Common examples include cardboard, paper, and aluminum.
By choosing these materials, you not only simplify the recycling process but also support the demand for recycled products, encouraging a circular economy.
The information below shows which plastics are easier to recycle in New Zealand.
Keep in mind that many forms of plastic packaging are in the process of being phased out in New Zealand. The illustration below shows which plastic items and materials are being phased out over the next few years.
5. Educate customers
Empower your customers to participate in recycling efforts by providing clear instructions on how to properly dispose of packaging materials.
Offer information on recycling programs in New Zealand, and consider including labels or symbols indicating the recyclability of the packaging.
Educating consumers on the importance of recycling and the proper methods can have a significant impact on reducing waste and increasing recycling rates.
Businesses play a vital role in shaping the sustainability practices within the food industry.
Remember to prioritise materials that are easily recyclable, explore innovative technologies, and educate your consumers to foster a more sustainable future.
By implementing these strategies, you can meet consumer demands for eco-friendly packaging, and position your brand as a contributor towards a more sustainable future.
If you’re not sure which packaging type is right for your product, ask our team. We’ll help you carefully evaluate the characteristics of your products, production volume, marketing goals, and cost considerations to determine which sustainable method aligns best with your business.