What are the trends in food packaging?
Reducing, reusing and recycling are the pillars of waste management, including in the packaging sector. These are the basis for the upcoming trends in food packaging, mainly due to the legislative changes expected in the future in this regard and the consumer demand related to sustainability and circularity.
A reduction in the weight of the material used
Companies have always tried to reduce the weight of the materials used, both for economic and environmental reasons. Currently, companies are trying to introduce containers that seek to reduce the amount of material compared to the amount of product they contain. These containers are called bag in box, or cardboard boxes which include a plastic bag that allows the product to be dispensed in different quantities. This type of format was very popular in the hospitality industry, but is now making the leap to the shelves.
Packaging materials that promote recyclability
Different companies have launched packaging made with 100% mono materials, relying on different technologies such as lamination or the use of biorirection in their transformation process. The use of polyamide or EVOH appears as an alternative when looking for medium and high barriers. Different projects have been developed to adjust the amounts of EVOH and PA used so that they are compatible with polyethylene (PE) recycling streams, as well as in the use of adhesives that promote the compatibility of different materials during of the recycling process.
Paper and cardboard as alternative materials
Paper and cardboard have always been a part of food packaging, but they rose to prominence last year with the possible entry of the “tax on non-reusable virgin plastic”. There are already alternatives on the market aimed at reducing the use of plastic laminates on paper, most of which are based on aqueous dispersions so that these coatings do not affect the recyclability of the paper.
Chemical recycling in the food sector
The existence of authorized processes for the recycling of PET, and its admission as a material that can come into contact with food, has led to its rapid incorporation into packaging materials, mainly in bottles and trays.
Compostable materials are slowly entering shelves, although at a slower rate than expected. The main applications are household items (glasses, cutlery, plates), as well as coffee capsules, bags for packaging fruits and vegetables, and bags for containing organic waste destined for the brown container.