Friends of the Earth publishes a study showing that the use of plastic containers to guarantee food preservation does not reduce food waste. The report notes that both packaging and food waste have increased alarmingly in the last decade.
Plastic packaging waste and food waste are two great challenges that Europe has to face. For Alodia Pérez, our head of the Natural Resources and Waste Area, “these problems are a sign of a serious failure of the current economic system. Far from solving food waste, plastic containers encourage it ”.
Report correlates food waste and plastic packaging
In 2015, food waste in Europe accounted for the loss of 143 billion euros, equivalent to the EU operating budget.Each person in the EU generates an average of 173 kilos of food waste per year, more than double its own weight. Only in Spain 7,700 million kilos of food are wasted.
Plastic packaging waste reaches an average of 30 kg per person per year, of which70% will end up abandoned, dumped or incinerated. According to UNEP, the environmental costs of plastics represent 15,000 million euros worldwide.
The causes of food waste and plastic packaging are complex; occurring throughout the food chain, from production to consumption.Our report highlights the impacts, responsibilities and possibilities for improvement of each of the sectors involved, seeking the joint reduction of both food waste and plastic packaging waste.
The report also highlights thelack of knowledge about the implications of possible chemical migrations between plastic packaging and food. It is necessary to focus research on this aspect, to prevent and avoid health conditions.
One of the reasons put forward to justify the massive use of plastic packaging is its ability to preserve food, however, in the last decade, in which packaging has increased its volume to a great extent, so has wastage food. The report analyzes the root causes of both waste streams, presents changes to the model and solutions that would reduce the two types of waste. We consider it unreasonable to justify the increase in one stream of waste, plastic packaging, in exchange for the reduction of another, food, even more so when this reduction does not occur.
Some of the causes that have been observed of food waste, caused by packaging, are the caliber requirements for container sizes, which cause edible products to be eliminated in production, or muti-packs. The latter require the purchase of a quantity of product that may be higher than what is really needed and, therefore, induce waste, in addition to generating a high amount of plastic packaging waste.
The globalization of the food market and speculation causes the over-production of food and the devaluation of its price, which causes an increase in food waste. This system is one of the main causes of hunger and malnutrition.The situation is paradoxical: while around 88 billion kilos of food are wasted in the EU alone, more than a billion people have problems accessing sufficient food.
Existing experiences of short distribution chains, bulk stores, home delivery of food with reusable packaging, etc., greater information on food preservation to citizens andAlternatives based on food sovereignty demonstrate how solutions must go to the root of the problem and be associated with a change of model in the current food chain.
Download the report (PDF) below: