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Food Packaging Waste

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Whitney Martin

on 4 December 2012

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Transcript of Food Packaging Waste

Food Packaging Waste photo credit Nasa / Goddard Space Flight Center / Reto Stöckli For our Food Module Project: Food and the Environment, our group decided to explore the food packaging industry and it's effects on our environment. We hope to show individuals that making simple changes to their consumer habits and recycling can greatly lessen our environmental impact. Introduction Packaging provides a physical barrier between a product and the external environment thereby ensuring hygiene and reducing the risk of product wastage due to contamination.

Some forms of packaging prolong the life of food leading to less food waste.

Some packaging is also needed for safe and efficient transportation. i.e. protecting tomatoes from bruising.

Packaging is also used to provide customers with information and instructions, for which there are some legal requirements.

Packaging is a way of marketing food items to consumers. Why use packaging? The decrease in the size of households over the decades has resulted in more people buying smaller portions of food, and thus more packaging.

Higher living standards in the western world have led to more consumer goods and to the transportation of exotic foods over long distances requiring a large amount of packaging to maintain freshness.

A trend towards urbanisation, which creates longer distances between food producers in rural areas and consumers in urban areas, has also led to a demand for packaging.

Other contributing factors are the increases in working families (i.e. both partners working which leads to more processed foods being purchased) along with the increase in fridge and freezer ownership, which has led to a higher demand for convenience food. Why is there so much waste? United States generates enough trash to fill 63,000 25 ton garbage trucks each day. It’s estimated that we dump nearly 700,000 tons of trash into landfills via municipal waste streams every day (garbage that consists of everyday items such as product packaging, lawn trimmings, furniture, clothing, etc.) How much waste is there? Packaging makes up about 40 percent of all solid waste in those municipal waste streams – materials we don’t even want, including cardboard boxes, plastics, and styrofoam. After some calculations, we learned that the packaging we throw away annually totals nearly 39 million tons of paper/paperboard, 13.7 million tons of plastics, and 10.9 million tons of glass. The total amount of packaging waste from 2005 to 2010 increased 1.8 percent annually. •Americans throw away 2.5 million plastic bottles every hour.
•Every year, Americans make enough plastic film to shrink-wrap the state of Texas.
•The amount of glass bottles Americans throw away every two weeks would have filled both World Trade Center towers.
•Americans throw away enough aluminum cans to rebuild our commercial air fleet every three months, and enough iron and steel to supply all our nation’s automakers every day.
•Throwing away one aluminum can wastes as much energy as if that can were 1/2 full of gasoline.
•In the U.S., an additional 5 million tons of waste is generated during the holidays. Four million tons of this is wrapping paper and shopping bags. Better Perspective In an attempt to reach our target audience of MSU students and find a solution for our problem we spread out and surveyed students throughout campus. Overall 213 surveys were filled out.

We asked the following questions in our survey-
1. Do you recycle?
2. Do you return cans for deposit?
3. Do you buy in bulk?
4. Do you purchase items conscientiously? i.e. buy items with less packaging so there will be less waste or shop at Farmer's Markets
5.Do you cook from scratch at least once a week? The Data Buy Wisely- Companies often over-package their products for shipping without realizing it. Businesses can reduce their amount of shipping waste with education and communication. Although at least 28 countries have laws designed to encourage packaging reduction, the US is not one of them – leaving package waste in the hands of the consumer. Much of the waste associated with packaging are, in fact, recyclable – but it’s up to the consumer to handle it. For every over packaged product there is a similar one with less packaging that is more bio-degradable. Solutions Recycle- On average, 30 million tons of packaging was recycled annually from 2005 to 2010. More, however, was thrown away. In 2006 alone, 27.5 million tons of plastic products, 2.6 million tons of aluminum items, and over 10.3 million tons of glass bottles, jars, and other containers were not recycled, ending up in landfills.
Well-run recycling programs cost less to operate than waste collection, landfilling, and incineration.
Recycling and composting diverted nearly 70 million tons of material away from landfills and incinerators.
The energy we save when we recycle one glass bottle is enough to light a light bulb for four hours.
Manufacturing with recycled materials, with very few exceptions, saves energy and water and produces less air and water pollution than manufacturing with virgin materials.
Every ton of paper that is recycled saves 17 trees. Solutions Buy in Bulk- Buying prepackaged bulk foods can still help to reduce packaging, because instead of having a lot of smaller packages to make up the same quantity of food, you only have one package for the larger bulk quantity.

Cook from Scratch- Whatever you cook at home, from scratch, you reduce or basically eliminate the need for packaging for those items.

Shop at Farmer's Markets where little if any packaging is used. Most markets now accept the Bridge Card. And be sure to bring your own reusable bags to carry your groceries. Solutions Results
1. 56 participants stated that they do recycle (26%)
2. 141 participants stated that they take back cans regularly (101/141 had cars on campus).
3. 129 participants said they buy in bulk (101 had cars on campus).
4. 22 participants said that they buy conscientiously and shop at Farmer's Markets (10.3%)
5. 19 participants said that they cook from scratch at least per week (8.9%) (Keep in mind, our data only represents 0.4% of MSU population most of whom live on campus) http://www.greendustries.com/unido.pdf

http://www.ift.org/Knowledge-Center/Read-IFT-Publications/Science-Reports/Scientific-Status-Summaries/Editorial/Food-Packaging-and-Its-Environmental-Impact.aspx

http://in.gredients.com/2010/10/12/facts-about-packaging/


P.S. we recycled all the surveys afterward :) Sources Most of the students that took our surveys lived on campus therefore rarely recycled or cooked their own meals.
They also are more likely to buy in bulk at the beginning of each semester since they might not get that many chances to get to the store.
College students have limited funds to shop at farmer's markets or to worry about making conscientious consumer decisions.
We noticed when there is monetary compensation students are more likely to recycle. Interpreting the Data Avoiding packaging is nearly impossible, but there are steps that our government, companies, and consumers can take to lessen the amount of packaging waste. Governments can place restrictions on companies limiting the amount of materials they can use. They can also implement more recycle for pay programs that give consumers an incentive to recycle. Companies need to change their focus from marketing their product to cutting down on the amount of packaging in their product. Consumers can recycle, make conscientious choices, and buy in bulk. Conclusion Our goal was to create a website that will be shared publicly to increase awareness of this growing problem and offer solutions that a single consumer can do to make a change.
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