Today’s market has grown to be very environmentally aware. Companies have begun to provide green packaging alternatives to fill this need-gap in the marketplace. With all the changes in the packaging world, a slew of new terms are out there – from compostable to biodegradable to bioplastic. It’s hard to keep them all straight and understand the nuances between them. More than that, for the average consumer it can be confusing to understand which is the most Eco-friendly options. This article explores these terms and hopes to shed light on current Eco-conscious opportunities.
“Biodegradable” and “Compostable”
Compostable Trays, Made of Wheat
If you hark back to high school geometry, you may remember that while every square is a rectangle, not every rectangle is a square. This concept is very similar to the differences between the terms “biodegradable” and “compostable. While everything that is compostable is biodegradable, not everything that is biodegradable is compostable.
Most compost facilities require decomposition between 90 and 180 days. For packaging to be classified as compostable, the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) has dictated three criteria to be met:
Biodegrade – the packaging component must break down into carbon dioxide, water, and biomass at the same rate consistent with known compostable materials, such as paper (cellulose)
Disintegrate – decomposition occurs, such that the packaging is not visually distinguishable in the compost
Eco-Toxicity – the biodegradation does not produce any toxic materials and can support plant growth
Technically, many items can be considered biodegradable because there is no time requirement. For example, an apple core will biodegrade in 1 – 2 months, but it takes an aluminum can 80-200 years to biodegrade in a landfill. Unlike compostable plastics, there is no universal definition or certification for the marketing claim “biodegradable”. However, the biggest difference between these two terms is the ambiguous decomposition time. Therefore, it is better to focus on the more specific term of compostability.
Bioplastics are plastics in which all or part of the carbon makeup is derived from renewable feed stocks, like corn or cellulose. Like the terms biodegradable and compostable, biobased plastic does not equal biodegradable. It’s possible for 100% biobased plastics to be non-biodegradable and 100% fossil-based plastics to be biodegradable. Yet, compared to their more conventional counterparts, biobased plastics save fossil resources by being annually replenished.
Recycle Everything Possible!
Space in landfills is becoming more scarce as municipal solid waste (MSW) generation increases. Containers and packaging make up the largest portion of MSW – almost 30%, or 72 million tons. Of the materials that are routinely disposed of in landfills, 70% could be recycled. Recycling these products, like plastic, metals, and paper, can not only reduce the amount of waste disposed in landfills, but preserve our limited sources of nonrenewable raw materials.
It’s key to properly dispose of biodegradable, compostable, and all other recyclable materials as this can have huge benefits for the environment. From taking less time to break down to being made from completely renewable resources to decreasing carbon emissions, these packaging structures offer today’s consumers an opportunity to be more Eco-conscious and businesses to provide the right solutions for their customers and the planet.
Ready to eat meals, although present in the food market for some years, are continuing to be on the rise. According to a study by Market Research Future, this portion of the food sector is expected to grow 6% by 2022. More and more millennials, Generation Z, and families with young children are taking advantage of the convenience prepared meals provides. A trend in ready to eat meals is minimal food additives and preservatives. Consumers are also becoming more health conscious and are looking for meals with minimal or no preparation.
Current food technologies such as Modified Atmosphere Packaging (MAP) and Vacuum Skin Packaging (VSP) support these trends by extending ready meal shelf life. These technologies are scalable and easily integrated into any operation size, large or small. In this way, ready to eat meals can offer consumers fresher and healthier options while still providing convenience.
Produce shelf life is determined by many factors – temperature, moisture, oxygen levels, and sensitivity to ethylene. Packaging these products presents an issue when they are covered as trapped ethylene increases deterioration rate and lowers the shelf life of produce. This is a prevalent difficulty in the prepared meal-kit sector which uses a variety of vegetables for their dishes. It is necessary for the produce to last through a varying distribution system as well as keep longer for the kits sold in stores.
One solution to extend the life of produce is found in Green Bags. The packaging contains an ethylene absorbing technology which takes in the gasses naturally generated by the produce. This reduction yields a longer shelf life especially when the products are stored in the corresponding recommended temperature range for the specific food.
In a rudimentary experiment, Point Five tested to see how well the bags measured up to expectations. A variety of vegetables were purchased from a local grocery store and packed in three formats: original packaging, microwavable bags, and Green Bags. The bags were kept for 21 days at refrigeration temperatures. Overall, the produce stored in the Green Bags were preserved better than those stored in both the original packaging and the microwavable bags.
The spinach in the Green Bags, showed on the right, did show signs of wilting; however, there was less moisture build-up and reduced deterioration overall.
The radishes stored in the Green Bags showed little to no deterioration over the three weeks.
The broccoli in the original packaging were slightly discolored, but the samples stored in the Green Bags were still bright green.
The green beans kept in the Green Bags had the best overall results with little to no color, texture, or aroma changes.
Green Bags are offered in roll stock, custom sizes and colors, and in stock sizes. For more information or to request a quote, contact us today.
Modified Atmosphere Packaging (MAP) is safe and natural method of extending shelf life for fresh food products without the addition of artificial preservatives. MAP greatly reduces the oxygen content in a food package and replaces the head space in the container with a natural inert gas such as nitrogen or carbon dioxide which are in the air we breathe. These inert gases coupled with the lack of oxygen prevent bacteria and mold from forming on the food in the package thus extending the shelf life. Point Five has one of the most unique methods of applying a modified atmosphere to a food container in that our systems do not use a mechanical vacuum to remove the oxygen. We use a quick and gentle flush of gas that does not harm or affect taste, texture, or appearance.
This fully automated, turnkey hummus packaging system incorporates the Point Five MAP method and is available for immediate purchase and delivery. Increase your productivity and yield today – Contact us for a quote.
Automatic cup denester
Piston filler with 30 gallon product hopper
Filler adjustable from 8-32 oz
Modified atmosphere cup sealing – Gas flush for extra shelf life
Auto Lid applicator
Independent lane operation
Up to 40 cups per minute
Tooled for industry standard 5.5″ and 4.5″ cups
Other sizes available on request
Ideal for any pumpable product such as soups, creams, yogurt, guacamole, salsa, dips, deli salads, etc.
A Leader in Packaging Solutions
Point Five Packaging was established in 2010 as a full service distributor and packaging systems supplier with an intense focus on the food industry. In a few short years Point Five has developed a network of suppliers and resources that delivers the most advanced materials and packaging technology to today’s food processors and retail environments. Our team of packaging and food industry veterans lends expertise to package design as well as operational layout efficiency and productivity.
Food Packaging Supplies – Concept to Market
Point Five boasts an enormous stock tooling program for thermoformed and injection molded food packaging supplies, including Polypropylene (microwave safe), crystal clear APET thermoformed trays and aluminum containers and are industry leaders in the supply of CPET, dual ovenable containers and products. Our low cost tooling allows for a lower barrier of entry for smaller, start-up companies and lower volume runs. Our stock inventory program can be customized to each of our customers delivery needs. We have the fastest concept to market capability in the country with in-house tray designers that bring your packaging ideas to life.
With an ever increasing installation base, more and more food processors are finding out that Point Five delivers effective shelf life solutions that cut cost, improve productivity and drive revenues at the highest possible velocity to market.
To learn more about Point Five Packaging’s food production packaging solutions, contact us today.