As individuals seek to buy and store food for longer during the pandemic, it's worth looking at the role packaging plays in mitigating food waste. Data shows 1.3 billion tonnes of food is wasted every year. That’s one third of the world’s food, enough to feed two billion people - more than the combined population of Europe and Africa*.
Reducing food loss and waste is also critical in the fight against climate change. Yet, it’s an issue that is often overlooked. When we throw away our leftovers, it’s not just food we’re wasting, it’s our resources too.
The production of food lost or wasted not only accounts for seven per cent of greenhouse gas emissions globally, but also uses 30 per cent of the world’s agricultural land and six per cent of total surface and groundwater withdrawals.
We all have a role to play - waste occurs throughout the value chain. In the developed world it is most prominent during consumption, with around 52 per cent of European food loss and waste occurring with consumers, restaurants and caterers.
As we look to address this issue and mitigate the problem, sustainable packaging can play a vital role. It can reduce the environmental impact of the food industry by preventing food from spoiling before it reaches the table. This is required now more than ever.
Innovations in paper and plastic packaging can extend shelf life considerably, providing convenience and portion control for consumers, for example fruit, meat, flour and pasta.
During handling and processing, food is often lost due to temperatures not being optimal, inadequate protection of delicate produce, and wrong size or damaged packaging. However, the right packaging provides barriers against moisture and gases, preventing spoilage, as well as protecting food from physical damage as it is transported.
*All data sources are referenced in the Mondi food waste infographic
As part of our commitment to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Mondi is developing packaging solutions that help to reduce food loss and waste at each stage of the value chain. As we limit our movements to protect society during this pandemic, protecting our food supply is more important than ever. Mondi is contributing by supplying fit-for-purpose packaging that is sustainable by design and helps to minimise food waste all the way from farm to fork. As individuals, we can also play our part by minimising the food we throw away through better understanding of portion control, being more aware of the role of best before dates and ensuring food is stored in the appropriate environment.
Mondi is a global leader in packaging and paper, contributing to a better world by making innovative, packaging and paper solutions that are sustainable by design. Our business is fully integrated across the value chain – from managing forests and producing pulp, paper and plastic films, to developing and manufacturing effective industrial and consumer packaging solutions. Sustainability is at the centre of our strategy and intrinsic in the way we do business. We lead the industry with our customer- centric approach, EcoSolutions, where we ask the right questions to find the most sustainable solution. In 2019, Mondi had revenues of €7.27 billion and underlying EBITDA of €1.66 billion.
Mondi has a premium listing on the London Stock Exchange (MNDI), and a secondary listing on the JSE Limited (MNP). Mondi is a FTSE 100 constituent, and has been included in the FTSE4Good Index Series since 2008 and the FTSE/JSE Responsible Investment Index Series since 2007.
Sources: 1) FAO 2019. The State of Food and Agriculture: Moving Forward on Food Loss and Waste Reduction; FAO 2015. Global Initiative on Food Loss and Waste Reduction | 2) FAO. 2016. Make #NotWasting a Way of Life.| 3) WRI. 2013. Reducing Food Loss and Waste | 4) FAO. 2019. | 5) 2015. Food Wastage Footprint & Climate Change. | 6) WRAP 2017. Fresh, uncut fruit and vegetable guidance.| 7) FAO. 2011. Global Food Losses and Waste. | 8) American Chemistry Council 2018. Reducing Food Waste through Plastic Packaging. | 9) UNEP/ SETAC. 2013. An Analysis of Life Cycle Assessment in Packaging for Food & Beverage Applications
Percentages for food loss and waste at each stage of the food supply chain are European not global and taken from WRI, 2013. Reducing Food Loss and Waste, based on FAO 2011. Global Food Losses and Waste. Note: percentages do not add up to 100% due to rounding.
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Saturday 21st March 2020 marks the International Day of Forests and, while the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic means that initiatives to raise awareness are likely not to be at the forefront of people's minds, it’s worth taking a moment to acknowledge the vital role of forests across the globe, particularly in tackling the climate crisis.