New study: Without film, 2.7 times more cucumbers spoil in retail alone
A new study from Austria examined the effects of not using packaging for food. In the case of the cucumber, the amount of food waste on the retail side alone increases by a factor of 2.7. The additional amount of waste increases the climate footprint by a factor of four. The study shows that with all the focus on circular economy and reduced material consumption, the basic performance of the packaging is still the most important - also ecologically. It doesn't work without hygiene and product protection. The question of sustainability is not decided on the film.
Study "Stop Waste - Save Food"
The current study "Stop Waste - Save Food" comes from a network from science, the packaging industry and the food industry in Austria. The aim of the study was to clarify the role of packaging in preventing food waste.
The core message of the results report: Packaging can make a significant contribution to avoiding food waste. Specifically examined examples showed in detail:
- Doubling the best before date reduces the waste rate in retail by around 40 percent on average.
- By not using protective film on cucumbers, food waste for cucumbers increased by a factor of 2.7 at an Austrian retail chain. The climate footprint of the additional amount of waste is four times higher than the climate benefit from the saved packaging.
- Around 30 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions are related to nutrition. A third of all food produced is lost. Avoiding food waste can reduce our overall climate footprint by up to 8 percent.
- With its protective function, packaging often helps to reduce food waste. If this is the case, the environmental benefit from avoided waste is usually 5-10 times higher than the environmental expenditure for packaging. Product protection pays off particularly for foods with high production costs (e.g. meat, cheese).
Back to the basics
The study is a valuable reminder of what packaging basically does, as a product protector, as a hygiene guard and as a keeper of values and resources. We mustn't forget that, especially when it comes to sustainability and the circular economy.
In principle, it is quite conceivable that the cucumber could be deprived of its protective packaging without any ecological disadvantages. It is then important, however, that processes and accelerated logistics can compensate for the loss of shelf life due to less time required between harvest and sale.
As long as we do not have these system answers, it is negligent to forego the protection of the packaging.
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