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New Australian research shows role of packaging in minimizing food waste

A new research study, conducted by RMIT University’s Centre for Design and commissioned by CHEP Australia, has highlighted the role of packaging in cutting down food waste.

The study titled ‘The role of packaging in minimising food waste in the supply chain of the future’, highlights where and why food waste occurs along both the fresh and manufactured food supply chain.

As part of the study, which also addresses a knowledge gap identified by the Australian Food and Grocery Council’s Future of Packaging white paper, various opportunities are proposed 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 packaging plays a critical role in protecting fresh produce and processed food in transit, in storage, at point of sale and before consumption.

"In doing so it helps deliver a wide range of functions while reducing food waste," Verghese added.

Based on the study, households are the largest generator of food waste to landfill annually with 2.7 million tones and in the manufacturing sector, the recovery rates are high with 90% of waste repurposed.

The largest food waste generators in the commercial and industrial sector, include food services (661,000t); food manufacturing (312,000t); retailing (179,000t); and wholesale distribution (83,000t).

The study further suggests that through packaging innovation and design, such as improved ventilation and temperature control for fresh produce, and better understanding the dynamics between various packaging levels, food waste can be minimized.

Opportunities for improvement where food waste is incurred through things such as poor inventory management, overstocking of shelves or product damage during transport and handling were also identified.