Food Packaging

Food packaging plays a crucial role in the global ecosystem, directly influencing many of the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It possesses an intimate connection with SDG 2 (Zero Hunger), SDG 3 (Good Health and Well-being), SDG 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production), and SDG 13 (Climate Action). The intersection of these goals underscores the multifaceted role food packaging occupies, with impacts reaching beyond mere containment of edibles. Food packaging protects and preserves food, contributing to SDG 2 by reducing food waste, a significant issue in many parts of the world. It's estimated that a third of all food produced for human consumption is wasted, and improved packaging designs could help in combating this issue. For SDG 3, the hygienic features of packaging prevent contamination, assuring food safety and promoting good health.

Moreover, SDG 12 demands responsible consumption and production. Here, food packaging is in a unique position to create a significant impact. Companies can adopt sustainable practices such as reducing over-packaging, investing in renewable or recyclable materials, and integrating lifecycle thinking into packaging design. Some organizations are taking this a step further by innovating edible or biodegradable packaging materials, both solutions that could revolutionize the industry while fostering a circular economy. Lastly, food packaging's contribution to SDG 13, Climate Action, is achieved through reduced food waste (decreasing methane emissions from landfills) and sustainable materials, which lessen CO2 emissions from production and disposal processes. The sustainable innovation in food packaging is a significant lever for change, exemplifying the interconnectedness of the SDGs and the potential to attain them through concerted, cross-industry efforts.

Elsevier,

Food Chemistry, Volume 343, 1 May 2021

Food packaging can be considered as a passive barrier that protects food from environmental factors such as ultraviolet light, oxygen, water vapour, pressure and heat. It also prolongs the shelf-life of food by protecting from chemical and microbiological contaminants and enables foods to be transported and stored safely. Active packaging (AP) provides the opportunity for interaction between the external environment and food, resulting in extended shelf-life of food. Chemoactive packaging has an impact on the chemical composition of the food product.

The recent sharp increase of sensitivity towards environmental issues arising from plastic packaging has boosted interest towards alternative sustainable packaging materials. This new trend promotes the industrial exploitation of knowledge on chitosan-based films. Chitosan has been extensively investigated and used due to its unique biological and functional properties. However, inherent drawbacks including low mechanical properties and high sensitivity to humidity represent major limitations to its industrial applications, including food packaging.

The recent sharp increase of sensitivity towards environmental issues arising from plastic packaging has boosted interest towards alternative sustainable packaging materials. This new trend promotes the industrial exploitation of knowledge on chitosan-based films. Chitosan has been extensively investigated and used due to its unique biological and functional properties. However, inherent drawbacks including low mechanical properties and high sensitivity to humidity represent major limitations to its industrial applications, including food packaging.

Elsevier,

Innovative Food Science and Emerging Technologies, Volume 62, June 2020

Chitin is the structural material of crustaceans, insects, and fungi, and is the second most abundant biopolymer after cellulose on earth. Chitosan, a deacetylated derivative of chitin, can be obtained by deacetylation of chitin. It is a functionally versatile biopolymer due to the presence of amino groups responsible for the various properties of the polymer. Although it has been used for various industrial applications, the recent one is its use as a biodegradable antimicrobial food packaging material.

Elsevier,

Saving Food: Production, Supply Chain, Food Waste and Food Consumption, Volume , 1 January 2019

Food waste is a great problem nowadays; while many people are starving around the world, tons of food is wasted every day. An efficient way to preserve food is using industrial processes such as heat, cold, drying, fermentation, irradiation, high pressure, pulsed electric fields and modified atmosphere, among others, but it is also possible to use active packaging (AP) to extend the shelf life of food products. This packaging uses active compounds, as antimicrobial and antioxidants that could be released over time in the food and its products and increase their shelf life.