Meat production line with plastic packaging.

Plastic is an essential material for food producers and retailers due to its ability to aid in the display and safe storage of most fresh food products you see on supermarket shelves.

Due to its extreme versatility, affordability, and lightweight nature, the material is undeniably one of our most innovative materials and has become indispensable in our everyday lives. One of the main benefits of plastic packaging is that it provides an oxygen and moisture barrier, significantly extending product shelf-life and helping to prevent food waste.

Despite all the benefits, plastic pollution remains a serious issue in today’s society. As plastic is integral to the shelf-life of food products, it is vital to embrace solutions that harness the benefits of plastic packaging whilst helping to manage waste, increase recyclability and reduce the production of virgin plastic on a global scale.

In this blog post, we will be looking at the benefits of plastic food packaging and sustainable solutions to help minimise the overall environmental impact of our food packaging products.

The benefits of plastic food packaging

As well as being essential for the safe storage of many fresh foods such as meat and fish, plastic packaging can significantly extend the shelf-life of food products and protect them from moisture, humidity, pests and importantly, oxygen and microbial growth. 

Food waste has a carbon impact that is far larger than that of plastic. Approximately 8% of all human-caused greenhouse gas emissions are a result of food loss and waste. Significant energy and resources go into food production, and when food waste occurs, the associated carbon footprint is for nothing. Further, as food reaches landfills, it rots and produces methane which is detrimental to the environment. The use of plastic packaging helps to preserve food for as long as possible which in turn minimises food waste and therefore the carbon footprint of the food industry.

In the food industry, plastic packaging also helps to reduce the energy used in the supply chain, as it is lighter than other traditional food packaging materials such as aluminium or glass and requires significantly less energy to produce than other alternatives. 

If food and beverage packaging was manufactured from traditional materials such as metal, wood-fibre or glass, the weight of packaging would increase significantly, with material waste increasing by up to 150%, and CO2 emissions potentially increasing four-fold.

An image of iPac's Monskin® sustainable plastic meat tray container.

Making plastic packaging more sustainable

At iPac, we believe in harnessing the many benefits of plastic packaging whilst reducing the use of virgin plastics, increasing recycled content and driving a circular economy to eliminate waste.

We have developed a range of innovative sustainable solutions to improve the recyclability of the plastic food packaging we produce. 

Over the past year, we have launched the iZorb® Meat Tray Range, which allows us to remove non-recyclable soaker pads and increases the recyclability of meat trays. We also launched MonoSkin®, a non-PE Laminated rPET skin tray which eliminates the need for sealing laminates in vacuum skin packaging.

Incorporating Prevented Ocean Plastic into our products

Another sustainable food packaging solution we incorporate into our products is Prevented Ocean Plastic (POP). POP is a premium, fully approved recycled plastic that has been gathered from coastal areas where there is a danger of ocean plastic pollution. 

There are many social, environmental and industrial benefits to incorporating POP into packaging; it reduces harm to marine life and ecosystems, helps prevent ocean plastic pollution, and works to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Additionally, it helps brands and retailers adhere to UK and EU packaging requirements and generates revenue in coastal communities that are vulnerable to ocean plastic waste.

Prevented ocean plastic collection at local beach.

Our use of Prevented Ocean Plastic prevents over 190 tonnes (equivalent to 15 million 500ml bottles) of plastic from reaching the ocean each year. 

At iPac, we produce plastic food packaging that is 100% recyclable and contains over 80% recycled content as standard, helping to deliver client’s sustainability initiatives and applications. We are passionate about encouraging a circular approach to plastic amongst our clientele, one which prevents plastic from ending up in landfills and our oceans.

For more information on sustainable food packaging, get in touch with our team today.