Packaging provides many benefits: it protects the product during handling, extends the shelf-life of products, helps setting individual portions and conveys information to consumers. In turn, packaging helps to guarantee food safety, support informed choices and avoid food waste.
The environmental impacts of used packaging vary significantly depending on composition and its required functionality. In some cases, for example, increasing the amount of a product’s packaging can be more environmentally beneficial overall when it plays an important role in reducing food waste.
The food industry is increasingly using eco-design tools to optimise the environmental performance of products and packaging and is turning to reusable packaging solutions wherever environmentally beneficial and feasible. At the same time, packaging recycling rates have risen considerably over the past number of years. FoodDrinkEurope members have committed to producer responsibility recycling and recovery schemes in EU Member States where they have been introduced. In 2009, about 32 million tonnes of used packaging were recovered by these schemes in Europe.
Manufacturers are continuously working with the packaging industry to develop innovative packaging materials with improved environmental impacts, while maintaining product protection and preservation.