Packaging plays an essential role in the safety, quality and shelf-life of food and in conveying important information to consumers about issues such as use, storage, nutrition, ingredients and origin. In terms of environmental impacts, it contributes relatively little to the total product footprint. But it is a very visible use of resources and one which needs to be kept under constant review to ensure an optimal balance between function and impact.

Packaging also forms part of the WRAP Courtauld Commitment. The final out turn from phase 2 shows that food and drink manufacturers along with other signatories have delivered an on-target 10% reduction in the carbon impact of primary and single use transit packaging over the three year reporting period. This has been achieved despite an increase in production volume and is equivalent to saving some 594,000 tonnes CO2e. Most of the reduction has been achieved due to the work of signatories in optimising packaging. The equivalent weight reduction was 10.7%.

The number of FDF members signed up to the On-Pack Recycling Label Scheme - a UK-wide consistent messaging system to help consumers recycle more - currently stands at 23.

FDF has been part of a unique consortium of packaging and food industry organisations, local authorities and retailers who together with WRAP helped develop and launch a new communications initiative entitled 'Fresher for Longer' in March this year, under the Love Food Hate Waste programme.

The initiative, which is supported by a range of new creative materials, is designed to show how food packaging and the way consumers use it can help reduce food waste by maximising the shelf life of products once they get them home. It has been underpinned by some new independent research entitled 'Consumer attitudes to food waste and packaging', also commissioned by FDF and the other consortium members, comprising the largest such survey of UK consumers on this subject. This found that many consumers are not making best use of the information on pack, or the packaging itself, to keep food fresher for longer.

In recognition of the unique nature of this campaign Fresher for Longer received a special Editor's Award at the 2013 Packaging News Awards.

FDF and the other partners are currently working on a second phase of 'Fresher for Longer' due for launch in early 2014 and which aims to give the campaign more traction and buy in among local authorities, retailers and brands.

Case studies: Packaging

KP Snacks

KP SnacksKP Snacks has an ongoing environmental programme and is working to reduce packaging across its range. Its three-phase packaging project has achieved significant results..

Phase 1 moved Hula Hoop seven-bag multipacks from pillow to flow-wrap format. This generated annual savings of 163 tonnes of cardboard, over 30,000 fewer pallets for delivery, 70 tonnes less film for packaging, and 580 fewer lorry journeys for delivery.

Then, in 2012, the company invested in new flow-wrapping equipment at its McCoy's crisp factory in Teeside. The result, a narrower, tighter six-pack multipack, requires less film, allowing more multipacks in each outer case. This meant 23.4% less packaging film, 10% less cardboard, 10% fewer pallets and 10% fewer trailer journeys.

A further phase in Q4 2012 involved reducing the height of the outer case to allow an extra layer on the pallet. Trials proved successful and KP Snacks implemented this early in 2013, meaning 17,000 fewer pallets a year, 329 fewer trailer journeys, and approximately 60 tonnes less corrugated board.

Coca-Cola Enterprises Ltd

Coca-Cola Enterprises LtdWorking with the Carbon Trust, Coca-Cola Enterprises discovered that nearly half its total footprint comes from packaging. The company has committed to reducing the carbon footprint of its drinks by a third by 2020.

By re-designing its packaging, CCE are using less packaging than ever. Around 98% of its packs are easily recycled and its PlantBottle concept ensures that its 500ml plastic bottles contain up to 25% recycled content and 22.5% plant-based material.

Continuum Recycling, a joint venture with Eco Plastics, has transformed UK plastic recycling. Recently reaching the milestone of half a billion bottles processed in its first year, the plant helps CCE save 33,000 tonnes of CO2 a year – equivalent to taking 15,700 cars off the road.

CCE also work hard to engage with consumers – following its recycling promotions at the London 2012 Olympics, 70% of visitors surveyed said they would be more likely to recycle at home and 93% said they would be more likely to recycle while 'on the go'.


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Last reviewed: 16 Dec 2013