Home Smart Packaging – A Sustainable Way to Reduce Food Wastage

Smart packaging is a game changer in reducing and eliminating food wastage globally. Even though smart packaging is still in its infancy, incorporating this novel technique offers many advantages to manufacturers and consumers.

Many companies are already using smart packaging to fix supply chain inefficiencies. For instance, Sealed Air’s automated packaging solutions systems enable a more resilient and less wasteful global food supply chain and enable e-commerce and safe movement of goods across the globe.

A sneak peek into the regulatory landscape

Government and regulators across the globe are supporting smart packing to achieve sustainability. Specifically, European Union, Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and ASEAN have established regulations and guidelines for active and intelligent packaging material.

  • The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the US has laid down a regulatory framework for active and intelligent
  • In 2021 The Prepared Foodstuffs Product Working Group (PFPWG) of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations(ASEAN) issues two guidelines for the control systems for food contact materials (FCMs) including materials for active and intelligent packaging within the ASEAN Member States
  • According to European Regulations No 1935/2004, the sachets and films are required to be safe Food Contact Materials. For intelligent packaging, the indicators which are used should not release their constituents into the food, it should go under risk assessment under Regulation (EC) No 450/2009.

Benefits of using smart packaging

Smart packaging allows traceability which is a key input to predicting food demand and thereby avoiding overproduction and wastage. The farm-to-fork digitization also makes the food chain insulated from any illegitimate food products. Smart packaging is typically equipped with technologies such as QR, RFID, and NFC and enables three key benefits

  • Product traceability: Smart packaging enables real-time ability to track and trace exact product location throughout the supply chain using unique code management and throughout the product’s life cycle.
  • Preservation: It allows analysis and control of the environment inside or outside the package, to inform the product’s manufacturer, retailer, or consumer of its current condition, and allows companies to take steps to preservation.
  • Brand Transparency: It creates transparency through data and analytics and enhances brand reputation through consumer engagement.

Smart packaging: A detailed review

There are three types of smart packaging – active packaging, intelligent packaging, and connected packaging

Active packaging extends food shelf life

Active packaging with its technology intentionally releases or absorbs compounds from the food or the headspace of food packaging. Such interaction with food extends product shelf life by stalling degradative reactions such as lipid oxidation, microbial growth, and moisture loss. To reduce spoiling and extended shelf life, manufacturers are using components such as copper-based LDPE films and biopolymer-based packaging. Additionally, active packaging reduces plastic packaging by the addition of biodegradable edible packaging layers with good oxygen and grease barrier properties.

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Intelligent packaging monitors the food quality and ensures no waste of product

Intelligent packaging materials monitor the food environment inside and outside the package, including temperature, pH, and so on, and transmit this information to the user. The benefit of intelligent packaging is that it contributes to the improvement of Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) and Quality Analysis and Critical Control Points (QACCP) systems, allowing for the onsite detection of unsafe food products, the identification of potential health hazards, and the development of strategies to reduce their occurrence, ultimately leading to improved food quality. Sensors, indicators and radiofrequency identification (RFID) systems are the three types of intelligent systems.

Connected Packaging promotes consumer engagement

Connected packaging promotes brand-to-consumer contact via the internet and a smartphone, to provide product information. QR codes and NFC chips are the most used activation points in connected packaging, with their applications changing according to industry, product type, and use case. Most smartphones are enabled to scan and interact with these technologies natively, making it easier to communicate with consumers. Additionally, connected packaging assists companies in reimagining the entire business through the perspective of experience. Connected packaging also ensures that supply networks are repurposed for resilience.

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Conclusion

The future is bright but challenges ahead

The future looks bright for active and intelligent packaging. With the added advantages of reducing food waste and maintaining food safety, smart packaging would play a significant part in digitizing the food supply chain.

To attain economies of scale in this field, the industry must overcome some formidable challenges, including high costs of mass production, the difficulty of integrating smart devices into existing packaging systems, and worries about sustainability, security, and data privacy. The use of blockchain in packaging, the Internet of Things, and advanced technology would provide solutions to these problems.

References

  1. Touchcode
  2. impacx
  3. Amy Roeder, ‘Smart’ packaging preserves food and enhances safety without plastic waste, Harvards T.H. Chan, 2022
  4. SealedAir
  5. AptarGroup, Inc
  6. Tetra Pak
  7. Identiv, Inc

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