As the global population becomes more concerned with the environmental impact of humankind, companies are trying to find greener options for production, including the food industry. Unfortunately, not all snack packaging is created equal, meaning not everything is recyclable or efficiently compostable. Therefore, finding ways to sustainably create snack and beef jerky packaging is of the utmost importance across the industry. However, finding the most sustainable option goes beyond making things recyclable.
Recyclable packaging is great because it allows materials to be reused without the need for additional resources. However, not all plastics are recyclable, and even recyclable items only have a limited lifespan, meaning materials can only be reused for so long. Also, there is the additional question of the energy used to make the materials usable and the environmental impact of that process. Although, recycling is better than biodegradable materials that can take decades to return to the soil.
Recently, there has been a push to find more sustainable options like compostable packaging, which uses cellulose and other plant-based products. To be described as compostable, the packing must biodegrade at the same rate as other known compostable materials with no toxic residue. These packages break down quickly and turn into carbon dioxide, biomass, inorganic compounds and water. While this means the materials aren’t reused, composting means the package can eventually be used to grow new materials and resources, which is the epitome of sustainability.
Flexible packaging is likely the most sustainable and efficient option the food industry has at the moment. While not all packages are recyclable or compostable yet, the industry is finding new materials and ways to adjust current standards to allow for more significant change and positive environmental impact. However, currently, the use of flexible packages reduces the environmental impact of corporations in four ways.
- Landfill Impact
In comparison to other packaging materials, flexible packages result in far less waste and materials, making their way to the landfill. For example, 31% more thermoformed baby food containers end up in the landfill than flexible options.
- Water Use
Next, did you know that it takes more than 513% of water to make an HDPE bottle for oil than flexible options? Or, did you know it takes 1,605% more water to produce a steel coffee can than it does flexible packaging?
- Fossil Fuel Use
Also, when discussing the environmental impact and fossil fuels, flexible packages have far less effect than other materials and options. For example, at least 1,429% more fossil fuels are used to produce a rigid cat litter pail than a flexible bag.
- Carbon Impact
Last, the carbon footprint of flexible packaging is less than other options. For example, a laundry detergent container made from rigid PET will emit at least 726% more greenhouse gasses than other flexible options.
While not every snack package is recyclable or compostable at the moment, the food and packaging industries are making significant strides to counter their environmental impact. Flexible packaging is likely the most advanced and responsible option available. Therefore, if you are in charge of a food enterprise, consider switching to flexible packaging.