Waste Land

by Todd McDonald on February 12, 2013

Imagine you are waiting at a bus stop with a crowd of people, walking to a meeting in a busy city, or even watching your child perform in a school play. Chances are, one or more of the people you see doesn’t know where his or her next meal is coming from. In fact, according to Feeding America, for 1 in 6 people in the United States hunger is a sobering reality.

While this statistic is alarming in and of itself, it is even more upsetting to realize that over one third of food produced for human consumption is lost and wasted in supply chains – a fact that was highlighted in the recent Packaging Digest article “Sustainability Event Calls for Stepped Up Supply Chain Efficiency”, which describes the findings from the 3rd North American edition of the Sustainable Foods Summit held in January.

While many food waste questions were emphasized at the summit (centering around issues like food recovery, eco-labels, and composting) the most important was how can we make the food industry more efficient? The answer? Food supply chains must be a major focus for improvement.

This need is further accentuated by an analysis on food waste by the National Resources Defense Council Wasted: How America is Losing Up to 40 Percent of Its Food from Farm to Fork to Landfill, which states that reducing supply chain waste by 15% could feed 25 million people. And while the packaging industry often receives bad press when it comes to waste, it can play a vital role in this reduction.

Innovative packaging solutions can improve safe transport and handling of food, extend product life, encourage less waste through portion control, and improve the presentation and appearance of freshness. Plus, packaging that incorporates newer technologies like RFID can provide real-time information about the location and even the condition of products helping to identify potential opportunities for improvement within the supply chain.

At TEQ, this level of innovation is second nature for us. (Take, for example, when we used an A-PET additive in our food packaging solution for O’Kami Sushi tray to prevent fogging due to refrigeration.) And we don’t stop there. No matter what type of client – from food manufacturers to medical device manufacturers – we examine the supply chain for ways to streamline workflow processes and increase efficiencies. This can mean creating custom tools, modifying machinery, or even reengineering packaging.

What about your business or industry? What are some of the ways you could be part of the food waste solution?

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