CUED Publications database

Polymer film packaging for food: An environmental assessment

Barlow, CY and Morgan, DC (2013) Polymer film packaging for food: An environmental assessment. Resources, Conservation and Recycling, 78. pp. 74-80. ISSN 0921-3449

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Abstract

Plastics packaging is ubiquitous in the food industry, fulfilling a range of functions including a significant role in reducing food waste. The public perception of packaging, however, is dominated by end-of-life aspects, when the packaging becomes waste often found littering urban, rural and marine environments. A balanced analysis of the role of packaging demands that the whole lifecycle is examined, looking not only at the packaging itself but also at the product being packaged. This paper focuses on packaging in the meat and cheese industry, analysing the impact of films and bags. The functions of packaging are defined and the environmental impact of delivering these functions is assessed. The influence of packaging on levels of waste and energy consumption elsewhere in the system is examined, including the contentious issue of end-of-life for packaging. Strategies for minimizing the environmental impact of the packaging itself involve reduction in the amount of material used (thinner packaging), rather than emphasizing end-of-life issues. Currently, with polymer recycling not at a high level, evidence suggests that this strategy is justifiable. Biodegradable polymers may have some potential for improving environmental performance, but are still problematic. The conclusion is that although current packaging is in some ways wasteful and inefficient, the alternatives are even less desirable. © 2013 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Barrier Multi-layer plastics Packaging Recycling
Subjects: UNSPECIFIED
Divisions: Div E > Production Processes
Depositing User: Cron Job
Date Deposited: 07 Mar 2014 11:45
Last Modified: 08 Dec 2014 02:17
DOI: 10.1016/j.resconrec.2013.07.003