As planet-saving sustainability has become such a major trend, this feature will assess how edible and packaging needs to be adopted further by the confectionery packaging sector
The confectionery sector involves the widest range of packaging items available within the food industry markets. But because of the vast amount of non-renewable packaging entering the confectionery sector, there have been calls for confectionery giants to adopt new forms of renewable packaging. For that reason, this article is going to establish the various biodegradable packaging hitting the market and will also grasp the new edible packaging that is shaping the food industry. Through understanding these packaging developments, we can then understand how this will affect the confectionery world.
Sustainability and popular confectionery packaging
Packaging is single-handedly one of the most devastating materials plaguing our environment and climate. Plastic packaging in particular, though a great material for its longevity and protective abilities, is also destructive for those same reasons. The invention of plastics correlates all the way back to Henry Ford. Ford, along with scientists, developed plastic with the desire to create a new and effective form of packaging. Ford was willing to explore the world of plastic packaging further, however once the World Wars occurred, the focus on a variation of plastic packages was swapped for the production of warfare machinery.
For almost a century, plastics have been the most common form of packaging used by global society. However, its damaging effects were spotted towards the end of the 20th Century – with seemingly little regard or response from governmental bodies for how to tackle the impact of plastic packaging. Even to this day, many believe that the action undertaken is not drastic enough, with the COP-26 climate summit showcasing India’s desire to cut global emissions and plastic usage by 2070, when crop failure and environmental catastrophe has been predicted to occur in 2030.
The urgency around the climate crisis is necessary, especially when it comes to plastic packaging. This is because plastic packaging is known to be responsible for a direct range of issues such as overcrowded landfills, greenhouse gas emissions, and litter-pollution on our land and in our oceans. Overcrowded landfills not only depress land value but also produce hazards such as odour, smoke, noise, bugs and water supply contamination. The fact that plastic does not degrade means that these products will remain in landfills for an extensive period of time – creating this continuous effect of ecological harm and damage.
Plastics have the most severe impact when it comes to land and ocean pollution as it is known to cause suffocation, entanglement and if ingested can lead to fertility issues and ecological food chain disasters. In fact, it was recently discovered that microplastics have been found in human blood for the first time. One of the researchers, Prof Dick Vethaak commented what this could potentially mean claiming, “Are the particles retained in the body? Are they transported to certain organs, such as getting past the blood-brain barrier?” And are these levels sufficiently high to trigger disease? We urgently need to fund further research so we can find out”. The biggest anxiety is that these plastics can clog organs leading to a danger to human life. Therefore, it is imperative that new forms of biodegradable, recyclable and innovative forms of packaging are adopted by the food sector. One innovation that is occurring is the use of edible packaging – so how would this be defined and how is it made?
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Editor, International Confectionery
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