The use of plastic is one of the most urgent environmental problems that humanity must face to reduce global warming. Much of this waste corresponds to the food industry and its packaging. Therefore, it is important to know the types of organic food packaging.
Millions of tons of plastic waste are stuck in the seas, while affecting human and animal health, as demonstrated this study by the University of Seville. The long degradation time that this material has leads to the search for alternatives for the storage and transport of food.
Glass, stainless steel, wood and bamboo are presented as viable options.
What types of organic food packaging are there?
Ecological packaging refers to less polluting food containers than those whose raw material for processing comes from Fossil fuels. They are presented as an alternative to plastic packaging, which causes 40% of the total production of this material, according to a study published in ScienceDirect.
There are many materials considered more environmentally friendly than plastics As for food packaging. Among them are glass, bamboo, wood and stainless steel. Its adoption has multiple advantages, such as the fact of having a shorter decomposition period, which implies that they are biodegradable or compostable.
On the other hand They do not interfere with the taste of food and withstand high temperatures. Although, depending on the material, they have a lower durability. However, the Environmental care It is one of the most relevant reasons to habituate daily consumption towards types of organic food packaging.
Why are different types of organic food packaging necessary?
According to another study from the journal ScienceDirect, it is estimated that Between 4.8 and 12.7 million tons of plastic end up in the oceans each year. This has generated a historical accumulation in different sectors of the planet, where at least five are already registered. Islands formed by plastic waste.
Such waste takes years and sometimes decades to degrade. However, due to its exposure to ultraviolet radiation, wind and wave abrasion, the material fragments into particles called nano plastics.
These tiny pieces affect the aquatic ecosystem, being ingested by marine fauna and then derived for human consumption. This is suggested by various scientific studies, such as this work by the University of Granada.
The toxicity of plastic packaging
Another reason to reduce the consumption of plastic packaging is that dozens of chemicals used in its manufacture are harmful to human health. According to this study, 906 polymers, adhesives and other chemical additives are involved in the composition of plastic packaging.
Of that total, 63 rank highest in terms of hazards to human health and 68 in relation to environmental hazards. And this only taking into account the chemicals added intentionally.
There are other impurities that arise during the manufacturing process or are a by-product of the decomposition of additives. They are known as unintentionally added substances or NIAS, and represent other hazards that are difficult to determine and investigate.
7 types of organic food packaging
According to UN reports, every minute one million plastic bottles are bought in the world and 500 billion bags are used. Reducing single-use plastics is an everyday task that also applies to food packaging.
Different studies have analyzed more ecological alternatives for the storage, conservation and transfer of food. Some materials used are biopolymers based on cellulose nanofiber and essential oil, among other components. Wheat, wood and bamboo are positioned as elements from which to make biodegradable packaging.
That is, they decompose in natural environmental conditions, thanks to the action of biological agents such as fungi, plants, bacteria, animals and the sun. These containers have fewer chemicals than plastics, so they are favorable for human health and the environment.
1. Wooden plates and containers
Wooden containers are reusable, that is, they are not discarded in the first use. A study published in ScienceDirect showed that wheat pulp packaging and wooden dishes are safe for human health. While they contain some chemicals, the movement to food is much lower compared to plastics.
2. Glass bottles
Glass is a durable, resistant, recyclable material with multiple uses. According to this study, glass containers dedicated to food are recommended. This is due to its antibacterial properties and the low migration of toxic substances into food.
Glass bottles are increasingly used and designs abound for all occasions. But special attention must be paid to its sanitation to avoid the accumulation of bacteria in the beak.
3. PLA cups
Glasses with PLA are very similar to the common ones, have a transparent tone and are ideal for water, juices and any cold drink. More and more people use them due to their compostable character. That is, they degrade in natural environments and in short times.
In addition, they work for the formation of fertilizer in composting plants. They are made from an ecological polymer from potato starch, cornstarch and other plants. A variant with other additives, called CPLA, is used to withstand higher temperatures.
4. Types of organic food packaging with rice husks
The containers made from the husk of rice, obtained in the cultivation of rice, are biodegradable, economical and resistant. In addition, a scientific study found that this absorbent material has the potential to remove several contaminants. Different containers for moving food are available for sale.
Bamboo fibers are widely used for the production of biodegradable packaging, such as bowls, boxes, lids and jars. A study published in ScienceDirect highlights its mechanical and thermal properties as very advantageous for this goal. However, it has the disadvantage of wearing out more quickly than other materials.
6. Sugar cane
Sugarcane bagasse is a set of fibers left over from the industrial process of this plant. This material has begun to be used as a basis for the manufacture of dishes and containers for food distribution. A study proved its potential for storage thanks to its resistance to high temperatures.
7. Stainless steel
Nothing better than a resistant, durable, stainless and reusable material for storing food. It is an option that has objects such as lunch boxes and thermoses. In addition, containers with airtight lids are often used for the storage of grains, flours and spices
In addition to the above, this is a fairly environmentally friendly material. It turns out that, due to its strength, durability and stainless capacity, when containers and elements made from this material are discarded, they can be recycled very easily. Likewise, as experts say, stainless steel is widely used in other sectors, such as construction, because it helps save energy and water.
Single-use plastics: what they are and which ones we should avoid
These are objects made with plastic materials, made through petroleum derivatives, and which are discarded after the first use. This generates serious damage to the environment, since they take years and even decades to degrade.
But it is not the only danger that these objects represent, since the packaging of food in plastics carries the risk of the transfer of toxic substances. Numerous studies, such as the one published in the scientific portal Environmental Health, prove that materials in contact with food are a route of exposure for hazardous chemicals.
This includes some known and others not toxicologically characterized. Therefore, it is advisable to avoid the consumption of the following single-use plastics:
- Disposable cups and cutlery.
- Straws or straws.
Tips to stop using plastics and apply other types of organic food packaging
There are new legislations in Spain and the European Union that limit the sale of single-use plastics. However, there are also individual actions that can be taken in everyday life. For example, carry cloth bags for shopping and use recyclable or reusable hygiene items.
As for food, it is important to avoid single-use utensils and packaging, prioritizing the types of organic food packaging. These objects are increasingly manufactured and marketed, so the available offer is diversified.