Flexible packaging starts with less waste in the first place. Technology and continuous improvements within the last ten years have made it possible for manufacturers like Multifilm to use fewer natural resources in production. Now we can create a better product with less water and energy consumption, less greenhouse gas emissions, and less volatile organic compounds.
One of these improvements has been an increase in the material toughness of polymers. This means that films can now be extruded thinner than before with the same barriers and puncture resistance, allowing for significant downgauge by up to 50 percent. Downgauged film means less raw material usage, less manufacturing scrap, and less transportation cost.
Coextrusion has also made it possible to combine different polymers together, merging their advantages and producing the optimal packaging. Along with improvements in barrier, shelf life is the best it has ever been. Furthermore, Multifilm offers hermetic seals, which means that there is a much greater chance that your food product will be delivered to the end user just as you intended with minimal product damaged on the packaging line or in transportation.
Increased shelf life also has the very green benefit of reducing food waste. On average, $250 billion worth of food is lost annually in the U.S. throughout the entire supply chain while one in six Americans faces hunger daily. Most of the uneaten food ends up in landfills, which account for almost 25 percent of methane emissions. Therefore, you could say that world hunger is a packaging problem.
Waste-to-energy is growing as an end-of-life solution for flexible packaging and is a perfect fuel to provide multitudes of families with green energy. Unfortunately at this current time the U.S. lags far behind many European countries in regards to collection and treatment of waste. Germany recycles and composts roughly 66 percent of waste, whereas the U.S. does about half of that. Austria sends 38 percent of its refuse to waste-to-energy, while we do twelve. Currently, both these European countries send less than one percent of their waste to landfill. Hopefully, we can improve our statistics a few years down the road.
The sustainability issue, with regards to packaging, is messy and oftentimes both consumers and brand-owners alike fall victim to greenwashing. Of course, each product has its own optimal packaging solution, but when possible choose flexible packaging for your sustainable packaging solution.