Close the door!

This annoying little thing has been developed to save energy but could double as saving food.

We have a huge and global food waste problem with many dimensions. Developed markets, undeveloped markets, production, distribution, consumption, etc. One of the problem areas is consumers throwing out food they once brought home. Some of these decisions to reject are simply based on the best before mark while others based on using their senses.

My point is that with this great little device you will manage your fridge better and keep the door shut and therefore in the end save food from degrading and being unnecessary wasted. Well this won’t save the world but every little helps. Food waste is a big and disturbing problem in a world where famine is an ever present and also growing problem.

A waste rate of 33% is hardly acceptable in any industry

The United Nations said today in a report that about 1.3 billion tons of food is lost or wasted every year, which amounts to roughly one third of all the food produced for human consumption.

This is a totally unacceptable situation that hits the poor and vulnerable the hardest.

According to the report, food losses occur as a result of inefficiencies in food production and processing operations that diminish supplies. This is obviously a complex situation but the situation can be dramatically improved by using appropriate packaging solutions. Ruben Rausing said at his time the “Packaging should save more than it costs”. This is a very good example where packaging can make that difference.

Food waste, by contrast, is when retailers and consumers throw edible food in the trash. Consumers in rich nations waste a combined 222 million tons a year, according to the report. That’s almost as much as all the food produced in sub-Saharan Africa.

Love food, hate waste

Consumers only in the UK (to take an example) are throwing away 8.3 million tonnes of good food worth £12 billion a year. Households actually throw away more food and drink (8.3 mt) each year than packaging (4.9 mt)! This, all according to WRAP, turns into mind-boggling facts when you realise that this wasted food represents 20 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent in emissions each year. This is all hard to comprehend but this amount of emissions is in fact the equivalent of taking 1 in 4 cars off the road…

Now I don’t have the statistics for more markets then the UK but I think this is well representing the situation in the mature markets where food waste, of this kind, is a problem. This is not food spoilt in transportation or by defective storage in the distribution chain. It is food wasted by the consumer and it is worth yearly, still in the UK, a staggering £600/$950/€725 to the average family. The amounts are substantial, both for the average family finances and from an environmental view.

The situation is an opportunity for packaging, in many ways. Packaging can help and offer a solution but this can also provide a balanced view of packaging and its role in the growing waste mountain.

Packaging sizes can be fine-tuned to more accurate portions or simply by using smaller sizes you would avoid having to throw away leftovers. Packaging can offer better barriers if that is the problem and tips and advice can be printed on a label or similar.

Simply by addressing the problem it is hard to miss that packaging is not the gigantic garbage generator it sometimes is said to be.

Canned Food Bicentennial

The food can is 200 years old this year. That is an amazing thought that it is still around, basically the same as in those days. In 1810 Napoleon get divorced, Beethoven writes Fur Elise and Peter Durand invents the food can.

Still here but now highly efficiently light weighted and produced from aluminium or steel, shaped and fitted with easy opening lids. The can is facing stiff competition from both rigid and flexible plastic alternatives and also carton based solutions are taking shares.

But the food can is still here, actually 33% lighter than 20 years ago, and going strong. But also on a day like this you have to think about the glass bottle, that has been around for 5000 years now…