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Packaging waste and related concerns at food processing plants

Since its inception in 2000, the packaging organisation WRAP has been working with food processing companies to help them reduce food packaging waste.

It’s estimated that the chilled and ready meals sector generates around 12% waste, much of it food waste caused by product damage, under- or over-cooking, trimmings and over-ordering, as well as waste caused by packaging.

Efficient and sustainable waste management not only saves the processing companies thousands of pounds, it has the additional environmental benefits of not sending it to landfill. In the EU, waste decomposing in landfill accounts for approximately 3% of greenhouse gas emissions.

Being creative about food waste

In May, the House of Commons’ Environment, Food & Rural Affairs Committee called for government imposed targets on food waste reduction, including a mandate for larger food manufacturers to separate waste, and calling on them to sign up to WRAP’s voluntary Courtauld Commitment to reduce waste in the UK grocery sector.

The United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) has observed that food processing companies are making an effort to reduce waste generation and use more biodegradable packing products. It takes a different view of waste products, suggesting that food waste “can only be achieved if food residues are considered as complementary resources rather than as undesirable wastes”, adding that “in many cases, food processing wastes might have a potential for conversion into useful products of higher value as by-products, or even as raw material for other industries, or for use as food or feed after biological treatment”.

Leakproof compactors

In the meantime, food processing companies need to find efficient and cost-effective ways of dealing with waste and reducing their environmental footprint. Some of the country’s largest processing companies use compactors to save money on waste removal. However, as our portable compactors are leakproof they avert the need for fines that sometimes result from biowaste leaking out of the containers and into the climate with subsequent harm to the water, land and biodiversity. Not to mention preventing the vermin that would be attracted to such spills.