Packaging: the food and beverage industry recognises the impact

Many of you may not remember when we had a grocer – not a supermarket – who would place our seasonally-grown carrots, potatoes and plums in a brown paper bag and when milk came to your door in a glass bottle.

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If you are thinking along these lines when considering your weekly shop, you may be more in tune with current government thinking when it comes to packaging than you realise.

Plastic time bomb

Most things today are beautifully packaged in plastic; however, at last, it seems that something is about to change. It appears that the consumer, thanks in part to the impact of the Blue Planet series, is beginning to listen to the warnings.

The world’s largest food companies now recognise the environmental catastrophe that packaging has had and is still having, in particular to marine life. Ambitious targets will be set to reduce the 500 billion plastic bottles produced every year around the world. It is hard to believe that consumers currently buy one million plastic bottles a minute! Plastic drinking straws are already on the hit-list and the goal is to introduce a ban on single-use plastics.

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Solutions to the problem

The introduction of a system of deposit return, in the same way that you returned your empty beer bottles in the 1960s, could all be reinvested in recycling. Packaging will all need to be recycled or reusable, or ideally both.

With the rise in the consumption of soft drinks sold in pubs and restaurants and an increasing demand for more and more exotic flavours, the drink dispenser is obviously a better choice than a plastic bottle. Post mix juices from suppliers such as come in a wide range of exciting options, including mango and apple, orange and passion fruit, and cranberry juice. These are healthy and trendy, with not a bottle in sight.

What we need now is a long-term and sustainable solution to the problem we have created. When we wander along the aisles in our supermarket in the future, we need to resist the temptation to buy imported produce and look for the seasonal local varieties of fruit and vegetables. If we do this, the deft twist of the finger and thumb that the grocer had with the brown paper bag may make a comeback.


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