A new study conducted by RMIT University in Australia has highlighted the importance of packaging in cutting down excess food waste.
The study, entitled 'The role of packaging in minimising food waste in the supply chain of the future', was conducted by the university's Centre for Design and commissioned by CHEP Australia.
It highlights where and why food waste occurs, along both the fresh and manufactured food supply chain. It also addresses a knowledge gap identified by the Australian Food and Grocery Council's Future of Packaging white paper.
The research proposes various ways for the industry to address food waste through new and sustainable primary, secondary and tertiary packaging.
RMIT senior research fellow Dr Karli Verghese, who led the research study, said that although food security is an emerging challenge for both policy makers and companies in supply chains, no earlier research had been conducted into the role played by packaging in reducing food waste in the country.
"Packaging actually plays a critical role in protecting fresh produce and processed food in transit, in storage, at point of sale and prior to consumption," he said.
Households are the largest generator of food waste to landfill according to the report, with 2.7 million tonnes annually. The largest generators in the commercial and industrial sector include food services (661,000t), food manufacturing (312,000t), retailing (179,000t) and wholesale distribution (83,000t).
CHEP Australia and New Zealand president Phillip Austin said: "As a partner in many food supply chains and a leader in reusable packaging with an inherently sustainable business model, CHEP wants to be part of the solution and we would welcome opportunities to work with industry to create even more sustainable packaging solutions."
Food waste can be minimised through packaging innovation and design, such as improved ventilation and temperature control for fresh produce and better understanding of the dynamics between various packaging levels.
The report also identified instances where food waste is incurred through poor inventory management, overstocking of shelves or product damage during transport and handling.
Image: CHEP Australia and New Zealand president Phillip Austin. Photo: courtesy of RMIT University.