Food packaging lies at the very heart of the modern food industry and the percentage of sales of unpackaged food are showing a declining trend nowadays. With the global rise in incomes of individuals and improvements in living standards, the need for packaged food products has been on the rise in the recent years. The industry has been progressing steadily with increasing innovations and technological advancements.
Food packaging plays an effective role in making the supply chain systems effective and efficient. It plays a major role in enabling manufacturers realize the benefits of food processing once the process is complete, thereby enabling the contents present in the food to remain safe and wholesome for a longer period of time, starting right from the point of origin till the time of their consumption. Ever since the pandemic broke out, rising number of individuals have become health conscious and have started opting for packaged food. The guidelines for packaged food have become stronger, which has helped build trust among the consumers, by giving them a reassurance that the products are being prepared under safe and hygienic conditions.
The most fundamental role of food packaging is to preserve food quality and safety, apart from ensuring reduction of food waste. Often, packaging has a single-use purpose and is simply there only to fulfil its mission – which is its one time use. It is either pulled off to start consuming the product or is thrown away once the content inside is consumed. Packaging waste has now become a major problem globally.
The one-time-use has drastically increased the amount of waste that we generate. After their use, most of the packaging used for food products end up getting discarded, which is either they end up getting buried in a landfill or become litter that is carried along by wind and water currents into the environment. Packaging that is being sent to the landfills, especially when made from plastics do not degrade faster and in a few cases do not degrade at all and chemicals present in the packaging materials, that include inks and dyes from labelling could get discharged into the groundwater and soil.
Role of Scoops Ice Cream India in Packaging Ice-Creams:
We at Scoops Ice Cream India have seen a significant transformation recently, wherein, we have shifted to utilizing In-Mould-Labelling (IML) containers for packaging our various Ice-Cream products from Paper packaging that we had been using earlier. These containers come with a self-locking technology and are highly tamper-resistant. The packaging material is designed in such a way that it can be re-used rather than being disposed off into the trash. The containers have a perfectly fitting reusable lid which can be used to store other refrigerated foods or can be repurposed as dry goods storage for grains like rice and beans. They have been made in such a way that they can be easily stacked and they would be able to use the space in home refrigerators in the most efficient manner possible.
Besides, IML containers find its use in many other ways that could include growing seedling pots for gardening enthusiasts. Individuals can use it to pack their lunch or even store their personal belongings in their wardrobes. People have already been using IML containers in their own ways for the sake of convenience and this has helped in reducing the amount of plastic waste that is being thrown into the environment. The mantra here is to reuse.
Shift Towards Bio-Degradable Packaging:
When we talk about the one-time use of packaging, another key area where we have seen the changes is by deciding to go biodegradable. When it comes to using plastic-coated paper products, there are many eco-friendly products that can be used such as paper and plant-based straws, cups, glasses, coffee cups, etc.
We had faced a major challenge before when we had been using paper cups. We used to serve ice cream in all our stores using such paper cups which were not recyclable. The reason being they had a plastic-poly coating inside to prevent the cup from getting soggy due to the presence of our ice cream. Our R&D team has been working for several months to ensure that our paper cups are bio-degradable and 100% recyclable. We plan to make certain changes to the raw material and invest in technology to make the shift towards biodegradable. The new cup is being developed and made by us from a bio-based barrier film which is made from corn starch that acts like the properties of plastic. We plan to do all our printing using only water-based food-grade inks that is safe and environment-friendly.
Trends in Food Packaging:
The Food packaging industry has seen a lot of new trends with various plastic replacers made from sugarcane bagasse, corn starch, seaweed etc. Edible food packaging is also being made from sodium alginate and moreover new films that dissolve in water is being subject to continuous research, including other forms of packaging such as self-cooling and self-heating packaging which are some of the futuristic technologies that could give a new meaning to food packaging altogether. We require many more solutions such as these, since they could play a key role in helping drive the growth of the industry in the future.
Consumer sentiment has been shifting nowadays towards sustainable packaging and people are becoming increasingly concerned about the growing plastic pollution that is presently happening throughout the world today. Sustainability has become a new trend and is gaining huge importance today. It has been forcing big companies such as Coca-Cola, Nestle and PepsiCo to reduce the amount of plastic waste that is being generated by them globally. Every company is taking bold and quick steps to reduce its carbon footprint, as the world is becoming increasingly serious about the devastating effects of climate change. We surely hope to see the world adopting a sustainable approach, when it comes to handling food packaging waste.
About the Author:
Food Technologist & Head of Business Development
Scoops Ice Cream India