Research into sealing methods could cut packaging waste

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Food waste Food Industry Food industry

Research into sealing methods could cut packaging waste
A project led by UK research group, Campden BRI, and the University of Bath, aims to tackle the amount of packaging waste by designing a more efficient way of sealing packs.

Alan Campbell, section manager, packaging and manufacturing, at Campden BRI’s Department of Food Manufacturing Technologies, told FoodProductionDaily.com that the project could help save an estimated 39,000 tonnes per year of landfill waste.

“We are evaluating the effectiveness of replacing fin seals with lap seals in order to improve seal integrity and cut down on material usage, and we will be looking at sealing problems such as channel leaking, as to why it occurs and how it can be eliminated.

“We are also addressing the problems associated with film tracking due to erroneous seal shoulder design to enable better flow for film through machinery, as well as a reduction in the amount of film required,”​ said Campbell.

He added that the project is also focused on improving process efficiency in form-fill and seal packaging machinery, in particular in the area of jaw design, while the performance of a range of biodegradable materials will also be under consideration.

Funding

Campbell said that 50 per cent of the funding for the project has been sourced from the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), with the other 50 per cent derived form a consortium including food processor, United Biscuits, equipment manufacturer, Hayssen Sandiacre Europe, and packaging supplier, Amcor.

“The benefits for our industry partners are considerable: they will gain a better understanding of sealing methods and biodegradable materials, and using the results of our studies, they will be able to modify packaging machinery and materials accordingly,”​ he explained.

He said that trials using revised packaging shoulder designs are currently underway at the University of Bath.

The project is set to complete, added Campbell, in autumn 2010.

Food waste

Meanwhile, the UK government funded Waste Resources Action Programme (WRAP) announced this week that the UK’s top grocery retailers, brands and manufacturers have committed to an industry-wide food waste reduction objective to help reduce household food waste by 155,000 tonnes by 2010 through packaging initiatives.

“The target of 155,000 tonnes represents approximately 2.5 per cent of all household food waste in the UK each year. It is a realistic but stretching target to work towards,” ​said a spokesperson for WRAP.

WRAP said the objective will be met under its Love Food Hate Waste consumer campaign and will examine how areas such as labelling, pack size range, storage advice and packaging designed to keep the food fresher for longer can all help to prevent household food waste.

Consumer involvement

However, food waste reduction relies heavily on consumer behaviour change, which is considered a more difficult issue compared to making changes to the supply chain.

The WRAP spokesperson told this publication that in order to address the issue of getting individuals on board, it has been working from all directions, from retailers and manufacturers, local authorities through to consumers, to make a meaningful impact on food waste reductions.

Commenting on the retailers and brand manufacturers' pledge to help cut food waste, Friends of the Earth’s waste campaigner Becky Slater said:

“We welcome action by the food industry to identify the ways that labelling, packaging and storage advice can help cut household food waste. Preventing waste is the best means of reducing its environmental impact."

She stressed, though, that the responsibility of tackling food waste cannot lie solely with industry and individuals: "All councils should be providing collections for households – where this has been implemented it has been popular with residents and has actually cut food waste.”

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