Canadian Plastics Industry Assn. says industry should focus on food waste reduction, produce packaging to help consumers manage food inventory, contribute to more sustainable supply chain

TORONTO , November 15, 2011 (press release) – Just how much food goes to waste? Some reports show that 25% of food purchased goes straight to the garbage or is discarded by restaurants and grocery stores. In fact, rich countries waste 100 million tonnes of food a year.

“There are a number of plastic packaging innovations making it possible to keep food fresher longer, so less is wasted and sent to landfills,” said Greg Wilkinson, President and CEO, Canadian Plastics Industry Association. “From resealable plastic bags and airtight plastic storage containers to portion-controlled plastic pouches for your favorite foods, the plastics industry offers many ways for Canadian families to reduce the amount of food wasted in their homes, making it more affordable for them as well.”

Food waste also has a significant impact on the environment. The Global Methane Initiative confirms that methane gas produced by discarded food waste in land fills is 25 times more harmful than the carbon dioxide emitted from cars. In fact, landfills account for more than 20 percent of all harmful methane gas emitted.

“The issue of post-consumer food waste is a massive problem and arguably the most pressing issue regarding waste disposal,” says food packaging consultant and author Dr. Paul Butler.

“Focusing on packaging material weight reduction and recyclable food packaging materials is important; however, developing new innovations in packaging to help consumers manage their food inventory better and contribute to a more sustainable supply chain can have an even more significant impact on our environment.”

Consumers can help protect their wallets and the environment by using plastic innovations that help keep food fresher longer and looking for smart packaging innovations that ensure every last bit of the food is used before packaging is discarded. Intelligent Plastics has compiled a few simple tips to help consumers reduce food waste:

• Products That Leave Nothing to Waste

Purchase products with innovative packaging that leave little or no waste. Great examples include Hellmann’s® Easy Out™ mayonnaise bottle—a non-stick, no waste plastic bottle designed to allow consumers to easily get all of the mayonnaise out of the packaging. The plastic Heinz® Easy Squeeze™ ketchup bottle is also a great example, as it stands on its cap, and its unique design reduces excess food waste and ultimately saves consumers money.

• Reseal for Later

Check local grocery stores for foods that come packaged in resealable plastic bags and containers. Convenient resealable plastic packaging is available for shredded cheeses, tuna, sausage, dried fruit, pastas, cold cuts and more.

• Love Your Leftovers!

There are so many ways to use leftovers—from ready-to-eat lunches to creating new meals from leftover ingredients to freezing them for later use. Storing leftovers in air-tight plastic containers can help keep them fresher longer. Transfer restaurant leftovers to sealed plastic containers as soon as you get home. If you won’t be able to eat your leftovers within a few days, immediately transfer them to plastic containers or sealable bags that are made especially for the freezer.

• Cook once, eat for a week!

Planning meals in advance can help save money and precious time. About four in five said that plastic food containers and plastic wrap have made planning family meals easier. With the help of airtight plastic bags and containers, it’s easy to prepare and conveniently store an entire week’s worth of meals at once. This helps planners to purchase ingredients when they’re on sale.

• Pack your own.

Packing lunch instead of eating out can save money, and the wide variety of plastic bags and containers available today don’t just keep food fresh, they can help control portion size. In fact, 56 percent of people say they are looking for products that help them practice portion control. And for those who are battling the bulge or just trying to eat healthy, there are also new plastic containers and wraps that are designed to keep fruit and vegetables fresher even longer.

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About Dr. Paul Butler

Paul is a materials science specialist with interests in nanotechnology, RFID, smart materials and smart consumer packaging. He spent the first half of his career in academia before entering industry with technical R&D director positions with Alcan Aluminium and Crown Cork & Seal. In 2004 he founded Packaging Materials & Technologies Ltd, an independent technical consultancy to promote innovation in the packaging industry, and became an academic visitor in the Department of Materials at the University of Oxford.

He has written two books on smart packaging—“Smart Packaging” and “Consumer Smart Packaging”, and co-authored the book “Smart Packaging Technologies for Fast Moving Consumer Goods” published by John Wiley in 2008.

For the last three years he has been a principal consultant for the UK Government on post-consumer food waste and sustainability, focusing on the role of packaging in helping consumers.
The Canadian Plastics Industry Association is the national voice of Canada’s plastics industry, representing the interests of processors, material suppliers, equipment manufacturers and brand owners across the country.

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