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The Impact of Food Packaging on Climate Change


Food packaging has enormous environmental impact and exacerbates climate change. In this blog, we offer a brief look into how packaging materials impact environment and climate change, based on the content compiled from two valuable articles: Paper-Based Packaging Helps Tackle Climate Change, and The Environmental Impact of Food Packaging.

From plastics discharged to waterways to the toxic byproducts of manufacturing, food packaging has enormous environmental impact.

Modern food packaging offers a way to make food safe, reliable, shelf-stable and clean. Unfortunately, most food packaging is designed to be single use and is not recycled. Instead, packaging is thrown away and often litters our waterways. There are other environmental impacts from food packaging as well, including to our air and soil.

While it may be hard to find unpackaged food, opportunities to choose packaging that is less harmful to animals, people and the environment do exist.


Types of Food Packaging

 The type of packaging used depends on several factors, including where the food is purchased, the intended use of the packaging and the timeline for consuming the product.

For example, grocery store food is typically sold in glass, metal, plastic or paperboard containers, and often comes encased in multiple layers. Those containers are then placed into plastic or paper grocery bags.

Takeout food is often wrapped in plastic or aluminum foil, then placed into paper, plastic or Styrofoam containers, and (often) is put into paper bags and finally into plastic grocery bags. These bags may contain plastic cutlery, napkins and straws, as well.

Processed food often has multiple layers of packaging; for example, a food item might be placed in a tray, covered in paper or plastic wrap, placed into a paperboard box and then, often, covered again in plastic wrap.

Many food items that were traditionally sold or stored in glass, metal or plastic bottles or cans are now sold or stored in multilayer plastic-coated pouches or cartons. Current food production and consumption practices generate a lot of packaging, and new forms of packaging are constantly being developed. The packaging of food places the largest demand on the packaging industry, with approximately two thirds of all the material produced going to package food.


Paper-Based Packaging Helps Tackle Climate Change

There are three ways to mitigate climate change: by avoiding greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, by storing GHGs (carbon) in forests and forest-based products, and by capturing GHGs from the atmosphere. The manufacture, use and recycling of paper-based packaging contributes to all three.

Sustainable forestry practices increase the ability of forests to capture and sequester atmospheric carbon while enhancing other ecosystem services, such as improved soil and water quality. Planting new trees and improving forest health through thinning and prescribed burning are some of the ways to increase forest carbon in the long run.

Paper-Based Packaging:

  • Highly recyclable compared to other packaging materials
  • Fosters healthy forests
  • Helps tackle climate change
  • Practical, convenient, attractive
  • Preferred by consumers
  • Offers environmental and social benefits
  • Protects more resources that it consumes


What We Can Do

The way to reduce the impact from consumer packaging is to make better choices when we buy and consume food. As consumers, we make food choices that impact how much packaging we use and, therefore, how much trash and recycling we create. While recycling helps minimize the amount of packaging that makes its way to a landfill, some basic choices can eliminate the need for the packaging in the first place. Here are some tips:

  • Be informed about the environmental AND health impacts of food packaging.
  • Eliminate single-use food and beverage packaging.
  • Reduce packaging when you shop and when you’re at home.
  • Carry reusable shopping bags.
  • Avoid plastic bags as much as possible.
  • Carry reusable, stainless steel coffee mugs and water bottles
  • Use stainless steel straws for beverages instead of plastic straws.
  • Avoid plastic packaging, wherever and whenever possible.
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Görsel Sanatlar Packaging was founded in 1977 by Mehmet Ulu. Since then it has always been our main goal to provide our customers with the best possible service, to become the best national producer, and to strengthen the company’s position in international markets.


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