Baby food packaging has completely transformed over the past 10 years, evolving from glass jars to plastic thermoformed tubs and flexible stand-up pouches with fitments. Many parents today enjoy the convenience of flexible stand-up pouches because they are shatterproof, less messy, resealable, and reusable. However, it is not just consumers who benefit from flexible pouches.
In this Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) study, the life cycles of a stand-up flexible pouch, plastic tub, and glass jar were reviewed for their environmental impacts. When comparing the water consumption, carbon impact, and material disposal position within a full life cycle of the three packaging options, the case study found the following:
- Water consumption:The glass jar uses 1,294% more water than the stand-up flexible pouch.
- Greenhouse Gas Emissions: The glass jar uses 10x more material than the other two packages, and emits +302% more greenhouse gases than the stand-up flexible pouch.
- Fossil Fuel Consumption: The glass jar uses 98.8% more fossil fuel than the stand-up flexible pouch.
According to the U.S. EPA Waste Hierarchy, the most preferred method for waste management is source reduction, or using less resources to produce and reusing the package. Because of the flexible stand-up pouches high product-to-package ratio, it sends less material to landfills than the glass jar and plastic tub.
- The plastic thermoformed tub has a barrier layer that is difficult to process. This results in a 0% recycling rate, and 30% more of them end up in landfills compared to the flexible pouch.
- Glass containers have a recycling rate of just over 30%, but the glass jar still sends 7x more material to landfills than the flexible stand-up pouch.
As you can see, baby food packaged in stand-up flexible pouches are not only convenient for parents and other consumers, they also provide positive, sustainable benefits to the environment as well.
To view the full baby food package case study, visit flexpack.org. For more information and methodologies of assessments, please visit www.flexpack.orgto download Flexible Packaging Association’s “A Holistic View of the Role of Flexible Packaging in a Sustainable World” report and refer to pages 129-167.