By Isaac Fletcher, contributing writer, Food Online
DuPont’s innovative resin for use in food packaging can extend the life of packaged goods, which helps address major food industry concerns of sustainability and food-waste reduction
According to DuPont’s packaging global market director, Yasmin Siddiqi, for every pound of beef that is produced, nearly 50 pounds of greenhouse gases are emitted. Accordingly, when that same pound of meat goes unused and becomes spoiled, it is equivalent to burning roughly 3 gallons of gasoline. In an effort to limit waste and reduce environmental impact, DuPont makes packaging resins that enable meat to remain fresh for longer periods of time. Siddiqi, who recently spoke at the PAC Packaging Consortium on consumer packaged goods, argues that it is critical for companies to make use of new innovations and technology to help reduce waste.
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Sidiqqi contends that about one-third of the world’s food is wasted or lost, and with a rapidly growing global population of 7 billion — projected to be 9 billion by 2050 — figuring out ways to prevent food from spoiling is very important. With high-energy requirements for animals to be raised, slaughtered, refrigerated, and transported, meat is an incredibly resource-intensive product. If a consumer or retailer watches the meat turn brown or begin to spoil, they are going to throw it out, rendering all of the energy spent on its production useless.
Newer meat packaging includes multilayer films that keep oxygen out of the product. Sidiqqi explains that in the past, meat stored in someone’s refrigerator would stay fresh for a couple of days, but now, with different packaging, meat can stay fresh for 21 days or more. The packaging is used for products like bacon, hot dogs, and marinated chicken. It has also been used to protect milk, keeping it fresh for 90 days without refrigeration.
Check out how “active packaging” is locking in foods’ freshness
Although DuPont does not make the packaging itself, it creates the resins that go into the structure of consumer packaging and the barrier shrink bags used in meat transportation. The resin, called Surlyn, is the same that is used in golf balls to resist abrasion.
When it comes to protecting food against deterioration caused by light, temperatures, moisture, oxygen, and microbial contamination, packaging takes center stage. However, protection is not the only role packaging plays in reducing waste, as it also serves to encourage portion control, keeping food that may otherwise have ended up uneaten on a plate from being wasted.