Environmental Protection & Preservation
Packaging Food Safety With Environmental Responsibility
The impact on our
environment from food packaging waste can be minimized by prudently
selecting materials and following established regulatory guidelines, yet
the primary purpose must continue to be maintaining safe, wholesome and
quality food, according to the Institute of Food Technologists and its
latest scientific review, Food Packaging-Roles, Materials, and
Issued this month, this IFT Scientific Status Summary explains the role
of packaging in the food supply chain, the types of materials utilized, and
their impact on the environment. It also provides an overview of U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency guidelines, waste management options,
disposal methods, and legislation of packaging disposal, and more.
Authored by IFT Fellow and food packaging expert Kenneth Marsh, Ph.D.,
the report also describes the current cradle-to-cradle concept to recover
sufficient materials and energy in a way that imposes zero impact on future
generations. Some data of interest to many audiences, as noted in the
scientific summary, include:
- Food is the only product class typically consumed three times per
day by virtually every person.
- Only approximately 31 percent of all municipal solid waste is from
packaging materials-a number that's remained constant since the 1990s
despite an increase in the total amount of MSW.
- Non-packaging sources (e.g., newsprint, telephone books, office
communications) account for more than twice as much MSW as packaging
- Food packaging accounts for almost two-thirds of total packaging
waste by volume, and food packaging is approximately 50 percent (by weight)
of total packaging sales.
Advances is food processing and packaging play a primary role in
keeping the United States food supply one of the safest in the world,
according to the analysis. It is the role of food packaging technology to
balance food protection with other issues like energy and material costs,
heightened social and environmental consciousness, and strict regulations
on pollutants and the disposal of municipal solid waste.
IFT Scientific Status Summaries are issued as a resource providing the
current scientific understanding of an important food topic. This and other
recent IFT scientific documents are accessible online via
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