Food waste plagues us as a society, from surplus crops and improper storage to inefficient manufacturing processes and, simply, disposal of extra food. Currently, the food waste generated across Asia Pacific is at 931 million tonnes, with the majority coming from households. In Thailand alone, 17 million tonnes of fruits, vegetables, seafood, and eggs are lost each year due to spoilage or improper handling.
Many countries across the region are taking steps to reduce food waste, mostly involving recycling, repurposing, food rescuing and redistribution of excess food. However, more can be done, and one solution would be to stop waste at its source. This means constantly drilling home the message on the need to reduce food wastage. Besides educating the public, solutions include offering good packaging solutions and appropriate packaging sizes for food and beverages, so that people do not purchase more than what they need, improving knowledge on how to store food, and even eliminating ‘sell by’, ‘use by’ or ‘display until’ labels that are misleading.
Food is also lost at the source. For example, overproduction from seasonal supplies can leave as much as 33% of crops unharvested at the end of a season. A significant amount of food is also lost due to the lack of proper storage, such as inadequate refrigeration. The proper use of aseptic packaging technology can help combat such issues. This would enable manufacturers to buy surplus crops to pack for later, and to do so without dependency on refrigeration.
Filling and Aseptic Packaging Technology can help minimise Food Waste
It seems like a tall order to minimise food waste; however, proper use of aseptic packaging technology can help combat these issues. For example, not only can producers aseptically package surplus crops for later use, but they can also be preserved without refrigeration. And with SIG’s filling technology, they can also ensure minimal food loss during processing and filling.
Angela Lu, President and General Manager, Asia Pacific South, SIG said, “At SIG, we are taking 2 approaches to manage and reduce food waste. First, by minimising the level of food loss during filling by our customers. We do this through our highly efficient, industry leading filling machines that greatly reduce any associated waste of food on our customers’ production lines. A typical SIG aseptic carton filling machine has a waste rate lower than 0.5% and that is a strong proposition that is highly valued by our customers.”
SIG also makes its technology available to startups via the SIGCUBATOR programme.
“Our filling technologies also play a role in helping rural communities to reduce food waste by storing excess for consumption later. Through our Cartons for Good Initiative – which is designed to help communities save surplus food, support farmers’ livelihoods, and promote children’s nutrition and education – we work with local communities to use our filling systems and cartons to preserve surplus crops that would otherwise be wasted,” added Ms Lu.
SIG’s Carton Packaging solutions support companies’ Net Zero and Sustainability Goal
SIG, as one of the world’s leading packaging solutions provider, is fully committed to a net zero goal and to support and complement sustainability efforts by F&B companies.
Ms Lu said, “We are the first carton packaging company in the world to obtain Chain of Custody standards (CoC) certification from both the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and the Aluminium Stewardship Initiative (ASI). We are also the first in the industry to procure 100% of the paper board used in our packs with Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification, signifying that the material used is sourced according to FSC-standards and coming from FSC certified forests.”
This will add value for SIG customers, brands, and retailers by promoting responsible sourcing throughout the value chain – from suppliers all the way through to consumers.
All SIG aseptic carton packs are also made with 100% renewable electricity, and SIG is also achieving carbon neutral production. On average, 75% of every SIG aseptic carton is made from forest-based paperboard supporting the regeneration of natural resources.
Compared to other packaging solutions, the lightweight and space-saving design also allows more carton packs to be transported at each time, further reducing carbon emissions during deliveries and transportation, also contributing to SIG aseptic cartons having the lowest carbon footprint compared to other packaging options.
In addition, the range of packaging materials in its SIGNATURE portfolio – SIGNATURE Full Barrier, SIGNATURE Circular, SIGNATURE EVO, and the soon to be launched SIGNATURE EVO 100 – are specially designed to offer significant further improvements to the life cycle impacts of its packs without compromising the quality and integrity of the food product within.
SIGNATURE Full Barrier is a packaging material that has a carbon footprint up to 45% lower than a standard pack. The packaging structure is linked to up to 95% forest-based renewable materials (through a certified mass-balance system). It comes with an ultra-thin layer of responsibly sourced aluminium to protect all filled goods.
SIGNATURE EVO, the world’s first full barrier packaging material without aluminium layer for aseptic carton packs, provides full protection of filled products with no aluminium layer, with a lower carbon footprint than a standard aseptic carton. It also allows for easier recycling as there is no longer a separation required for aluminium.
Asia becoming a big part of the global problem on Food Waste
Although food waste is a global problem, it is particularly prevalent in Asia, with the region accounting for more than half of the world’s disposed food.
While household food waste is part and parcel of the problem, businesses are also responsible for disposing of edible food throughout the supply chain, with the main culprits being industrialised urban areas in the region. It is alarming to note that only 3 countries in Asia combined to make up over a quarter or 28% of the world’s wasted (disposed) food – namely China, Japan and South Korea.
According to research from Future Direction International, the amount of food wasted in China alone could feed 100 million people. Meanwhile, South and Southeast Asia together generate 25% of the planet’s food waste.
Not only do massive amounts of edible food go to waste in landfills, while many in the world face food insecurity and hunger, much of the food wasted gets incinerated, which adds fuel to our climate crisis. According to the National Environmental Agency (NEA) in Singapore, disposed food is the second largest waste stream for incineration in the city. Burning waste not only supports a linear economy that requires the continual use of energy and resource waste, but also in the process releases huge amounts of greenhouse gases that drive global warming.
As Asia accounts for more than half of the world’s disposed food, there is still much work to be done in the future to reduce food waste in the region. There is growing pressure from different stakeholders including governments, investors and companies to reduce food waste and this has led to many businesses adopting technology to improve processes in food procurement, storage, and application.
According to a Rabobank study, it is estimated that through using best-in-class practices such as advanced technology, Asian food service and food retail could reduce waste by 45-80% and 60% respectively.
Leading brands have also taken the lead in setting reduction goals through the adoption of feasible food waste-reduction strategies including introducing efforts in their own operations and supply chain initiatives, such as product innovation, packaging optimization, data, and tech solutions, to tackle this problem. There are no easy solutions, but collective efforts by governments, businesses and stakeholders, public education, commitment to sustainability goals, and use of technology would help to make headway in addressing the problem of food waste in Asia.
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