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3 ways flexible packaging is made to protect and preserve food

Packaging plays an important role in food safety. Did you know that flexible plastic packaging contributes directly to food safety and food preservation in every stage of its life? Below are 3 ways flexible packaging is created to help preserve and protect food.  

  1. Barrier Properties 

Flexible packaging is made with different types of barrier properties. A barrier is a material designed to prevent or reduce the penetration of water, oils, water vapor, gases, bacteria, and sunlight. Therefore, the barrier layer works to keep oxygen out, aroma in, and extend the shelf life of food products! 

For example, stand-up pouches are often made with puncture resistant barrier films so your food is protected from any rough handling that may occur during shipping or storage! Barrier films can also be used to protect food from bad odors, dirt, and other harmful materials.  

  1. Seal Integrity 

Flexible packaging formats are created with a strong seal that works with the barrier film to prevent air and other harmful contaminants that spoil food from entering the package. A strong seal promotes portion control and works to protect the quality of food products by preventing leakage, spoilage, and food waste in between use!

  1. Multilayer Structures 

Some flexible packaging formats, such as multilayer stand-up pouches, are created with multiple layers of thin plastic or other materials, such as foil or paper, that each work to serve a purpose in protecting and preserving food.

  • The exterior layer provides strength, heat resistance, and packaging efficiency. 
  • The middle layer provides protection from light, gases, and odors.
  • The food contact layer promotes flexibility and strength, and protects food from water, air, product degradation, and keeps it shelf-stable, not only in the store, but in your home. 

From manufacturing, to when a package hits the shelf, and when you take it home, flexible packaging aids in food safety and food preservation. Its strong and protective materials protect your food during shipping and help to extend shelf life, so you have fresh food to enjoy even longer! To learn more, visit our resources page here

Prevent Food Waste with Flexible Plastic Packaging

 

Food waste is a major challenge in the United States. Roughly 1/3 of food waste results from cooking or serving too much and 2/3 of food waste is due to food spoilage. This results in 1.3 billion tons of food thrown out annually! Food waste is also a major source of greenhouse gases and methane gas emissions at landfills.

In honor of Stop Food Waste Day and Food Waste Awareness Month, consider what you can do to help prevent it. Did you know that you can play your part in preventing food waste just by using flexible plastic packaging?

That’s right. Flexible packaging reduces food waste by extending the shelf life and freshness of food even further without the use of preservatives. Its convenience benefits also contribute directly to reducing waste! Flexible packaging is resealable, and it promotes portion control and portability. Just take a look at the impact it has on some of our favorite foods below!

Furthermore, flexible packaging reduces waste at every stage of its life! It uses less energy and material to manufacture, reduces transportation costs because it is light weight and sends less material to landfills than other types of packaging.

As Food Waste Awareness month comes to an end, it is our job as consumers to aid in food waste prevention all year long. We can all play a big role in reducing waste year-round by using flexible packaging. Learn more by visiting our reducing waste page here!

A new way to recycle: MRFF pilot project case study

Historically, only cardboard, paper products, metal, steel, aluminum cans, and rigid plastic containers were recycled. However, the Materials Recovery for the Future (MRFF) has worked to pave the way for a new type of recycling. 

Because flexible plastic packaging (FPP) is the most popular type of packaging in the United States, the American Chemistry Council launched MRFF to determine how it could be recycled, recovered, and kept out of landfills. 

MRFF is a research initiative made up of brands, manufacturers, trade associations, packaging companies, and other members committed to improving the recovery of FPP, such as plastic bags and films. Below is a timeline of their findings and improvements they’ve made for recycling and recovering flexible packaging. 

2015-2016: Can FPP be captured and sorted in Material Recovery Facilities (MRFs)? 

Since flexible plastics traditionally get stuck in sorting equipment, MRFF partnered with Resource Recycling Systems (RRS) to determine if this could be reversed. After testing the impact of adding FPP to a residential single stream recycling system, their research revealed that automated sorting technologies could be optimized to collect flexible packaging. In addition, this could further lead to the creation of a new stream of recovered materials, and improve the quality of other recycling streams. MRFF’s next step was to test the economic feasibility of auto-sorting FPP.  

2017: Is automated sorting of flexible packaging economically feasible? 

RSS created a pro-forma model to estimate the cost and benefits of adding FPP to an MRF’s incoming material stream. Their results found that the costs for large facilities were within reason, particularly in areas of the U.S. with economic incentives that promote sustainable land use and end markets. Moving forward, they needed to demonstrate how this would work within a MRF that aligned with the criteria outlined in their research. 

2018-2019: MRFF partners with J.P. Mascaro & Sons Inc.

MRFF partnered with Pennsylvania waste company, J.P. Mascaro & Sons to test single-stream curbside recycling of FPP. Mascaro used new sorting equipment at its TotalRecycle MRF in Berks County, Pennsylvania to perform the pilot. The results revealed that FPP could be recycled and made into a new product bale known as rFlex.

2020: J.P. Mascaro & Sons Inc. offers recycling of FPP to households throughout Southeastern Pennsylvania 

In January 2020, Mascaro announced the expansion ofrecycling FPP through curbside pickup to nine of its municipalities. They aim to continue improving the recovery process of flexible packaging and expand the market of FPP’s recycled product, rFlex. This is only the beginning of new recovery options for flexible packaging. We are thrilled at this program’s progress and look forward to future developments.

Be sure to visit our blog as we continue to follow up on the Pilot Program’s advancements. 

Are plastic bag bans helping our environment?

Grocery stores are banning plastic bags in hopes of saving our environment. Since 2007, over 240 cities and counties have passed laws that ban or tax plastic bags. However, many fail to consider the negative impacts that plastic bans have on the environment. In order to fully understand the best solution, we must consider where ocean pollution comes from, and look at the environmental impact of plastic bans. 

Where does ocean pollution come from? 

Before supporting the ban of plastic bags to protect our oceans, consider where the majority of ocean pollution comes from and research the amounts and types of plastic that result in trash. Which countries are most responsible? Countries in Asia and South America that have not developed proper solid waste and recovery systems contribute most to plastic waste into oceans. Lack of proper waste systems often result in plastic that flows from rivers into our oceans. 

A September 2015 study by the Ocean Conservancy found that 60% of global marine debris originates from China, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam. According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s (EMF) New Plastics Economy Report, the United States and Europe combined only contribute approximately 2% of plastic leakage into oceans. In fact, a recent study in the North Pacific Ocean looked at an estimated 42,000 tons of mega plastics, and found that fishing nets accounted for 86%. 

What happens when we ban plastic bags? 

Plastic bag bans result in people using more paper bags and cotton totes, which are not better for the environment. Did you know the carbon footprint of a paper bag is 4x higher than a plastic bag? Research shows that plastic bags have more sustainable benefits than paper bags from a manufacturing, reusability, solid waste, and generation standpoint. Visit our recent blog post to learn more about the environmental impact of plastic versus paper.

Rebecca Taylor’s study, Bag Leakage: The Effect of Disposable Carryout Bag Regulations on Unregulated Bags, found that after California’s 2016 ban on plastic shopping bags, the sale of large trash bags that contain more plastic skyrocketed, so approximately 30% of plastic eliminated by the ban came back in the form of garbage bags. In addition, cities that participated in the ban saw a surge in the use of paper bags, which resulted in an estimated 80 million pounds of extra trash per year.        

Striving for a circular economy

People often fail to consider the full lifecycle of plastic products, and fail to research the negative impacts that plastic bans have on the environment. According to the U.S. EPA Waste Management Hierarchy, the most environmentally preferred strategy for waste management is source reduction and reuse. This means using less resources to produce and the ability to be reused. Thin, lightweight plastic bags that use less resources and materials are often referred to as single use products. However, plastic bags are in fact reused everyday by many people, which is why California saw a large increase in the purchase of trash bags after they initiated a ban on plastic shopping bags. Visit here to learn more about a circular economy for plastic in which it never becomes waste. 

    


Innovative and Sustainable Flexible Packaging: March Spotlights

Each month, we will be spotlighting award winning innovative and sustainable plastic packaging from The Flexible Packaging Association’s 64th Annual Achievement Awards Competition! In summary, 73 packages were submitted into this year’s competition, across a number of categories, for a total of 206 entries. Thirty packages were honored with 48 Achievement Awards in several categories.

Notable trends and features of this year’s package entries include: 

  • Package formats using bio-based and compostable materials that help to increase post-recycled content and reusability.
  • The transition of products previously packaged in rigid containers to flexible packaging, which helps to reduce material usage.
  • Packaging that makes it easier for consumers to shop, transport and dispense from.

Check out our March spotlights listed below to learn about the benefits of each package, the manufacturers behind the creation, and brands that are using these packages for their products.

AeroFlexx Liquid Packaging 

AeroFlexx received the Highest Achievement Award and Gold Awards in the following categories: Expanding the Use of Flexible Packaging, Packaging Excellence, Shelf Impact, Sustainability and Technical Innovation. It is used for products by major brands such as Mighty Mutt Dog Shampoo and Conditioner, and Dude Body Wash Natural Castile Soap for Men. 

AeroFlexx is revolutionizing the liquid packaging industry! It is currently the only flexible package that provides features and benefits superior to that of a conventional bottle. The packaging uses at least 50% less plastic than a bottle and features a clean, controlled one handed dispensing functionality. Best of all, the pouch self-seals when done, so no more messy spills or wasted shampoo or body wash! To learn more about the manufacturer, visit their website here!

Paqui Tortilla Chips Pillow Pouch 

Printpack’s pillow pouch for Paqui Tortilla Chips earned a Gold Achievement Award in Shelf Impact. Amplify Snack Brands redesigned the packaging of their Paqui tortilla chips to create a striking brand block on the shelf and a convenient packaging option for shoppers. The pouch features vibrant contrasting colors and interesting visual effects, created during the printing process, making it easy for shoppers to find. To learn more about the manufacturer, visit their website here!

Pride Lands Premium Bloom Soil

Pride Lands Premium Bloom Soil by ProAmpac received a Silver Achievement Award in Shelf Impact. This durable and sustainable bag works to protect your soil. It also features an overcoat and UV light-cured ink system that works to protect the integrity of the graphics long after the package is purchased. This makes it a great choice for sellers and shoppers! To learn more about the manufacturer, visit their website here!

The Ultimate Fish Stick™

Trident Seafoods packaging  for The Ultimate Fish Stick™ by PPC Flexible Packaging earned a Silver Achievement Award in Printing. The Ultimate Fish Stick™ features sharp images and clean colors, making it easy for shoppers to find. To learn more about the manufacturer, visit their website here!     

Visit this link to learn more about the Flexible Packaging Achievement Awards Competition!

     

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