Waste is still inherent in the global food sector; a situation viewed as untenable by manufacturers and government bodies alike. Packaging is seen as a significant part of the problem and there is a general consensus that more needs to be done to encourage sustainable practice. Cosmo Films CEO Pankaj Poddar discusses how the properties of its BOPP film packaging is helping to combat greenhouse gases and food waste
Roughly a third of all food produced globally is lost or wasted. Annually, this figure equates to approximately 1.3 billion tons, with water, land, energy, labour and capital all needlessly squandered in the process. And at a time when the battle to reduce CO2 emissions is as intense as ever, producing such levels of methane and greenhouse gases is a huge concern for all those involved in food manufacturing.
Supermarkets have regularly been criticised for their stringent sell-by dates, which have contributed considerably to the proliferation of food waste. Now, packaging manufacturers are finding new ways to help reduce carbon emissions, and increase product life on the shelves and at home.
Resealable tabs, better label information and split packs, along with portioning and recipe advice, are just some of the ways manufacturers are encouraging consumers to think green. For the brands themselves, adopting sustainable packaging is one of the surest measures to guaranteeing a more environmentally friendly supply chain.
Packaging manufacturer Cosmo Films has witnessed this shift first hand, and it has been investing in the development of more sustainable practices to help reduce waste and CO2 emissions.
By using BOPP [biaxially oriented polypropylene] films over other films as part of flexible packaging wherever possible depending on the end use application,brands and converters can make their first contribution towards enviromnetal sustainibility.
BOPP film is light and has one of the lowest densities, so you can pack a lot of food in a very tight mould and transport it in greater quantities, reducing the carbon footprint," says Pankaj Poddar, CEO of Cosmo Films. "It also helps with shelf-life extension as it offers excellent resistance against moisture and the metallised version provides a substantial oxygen barrier."
The BOPP film's low density ensures less is used to wrap more, and it also provides a high-quality and consistent seal integrity. With food packaged at different temperatures, it is important to ensure any package seal is strong the packaging laminate possess a low initiation temperature in order to protect the quality of the food content. This low melting point not only ensures food is unlikely to be spoilt by high sealing temperatures, but also that the film is perpetually recyclable.
"It is also easy to convert it back to granular form, most of which can be reused to make the BOPP film or in the injection moulding of household items, like chairs and tables," says Poddar.
BOPP also possesses excellent transparency and gloss, making it an ideal choice for colour-intensive printing. Post-corona treatment, decoration operations like foil stamping, UV top-coating and embossing can be easily carried out. And with the competition for customer attention as intense as ever, it could help food manufacturers distinguish their brand on shelf.
"In fact, speciality films are growing at a faster rate than the ordinary BOPP packaging," says Poddar. "We're receiving more customer enquiries about the high-quality barriers and speciality films, something that improves the shelf life, and touch and feel of the product. You can easily modify the top surface to give comparable effects to that of similar products."
Two popular examples are Cosmo's Velvet Touch film and its silky matte film, both of which grant a more subtle feel compared with regular packaging. Several other speciality films worth mentioning include:
lamination: films available in multiple textures such as linen, gloss and matte apart from velvet and silky matte; the films can undergo both wet and thermal lamination.
packaging: high-barrier coated, cold-seal, anti-fog, extrusion-coatable metallised, slip-stable, low COF and low-seal-initiation films
labels: print receptive PS label films, direct thermal printable films, wrap-around label films, and in-mould label and blow-moulding label films
industrial applications: synthetic paper, both sides tape film and overwrap films for cigarettes and cables.
They all contribute to Poddar's positive outlook for the company and the sector as a whole.
"We're expecting the flexible packaging industry to grow over the next year, the majority of which will be in Asian markets," he says. "It's been growing at 4-5% over the past seven years and we see no reason why this won't continue."
With the push for sustainability in no danger of ceding, it's a reasonable outlook to have, and if Cosmo can continue to engineer and promote its greener solutions, there's no reason it won't grow as well.