The Confederation of Paper Industries (CPI) claims that the use of corrugated packaging ensures less food is damaged in transit due to its protective qualities. It also supports the food industry’s sustainability goals by keeping products fresher for longer.

Using less of this material could actually increase food waste, according to the CPI’s director of packaging Andy Barnetson.

“Packaging helps to protect food in transit as well as preserving its freshness on arrival at retailers. It also uses far less energy in the supply chain than the production and cooking processes,” he argued.

Barnetson claimed that by preventing food from going off, it is saving far more in resources than those used in the packaging itself. Over 80% of corrugated packaging is also recycled, he added.

This view is echoed by ASDA’s supply chain director, Gavin Chappell, who said that corrugated packaging plays a crucial role throughout the supply chain.

“Its naturally cushioning qualities, customised information printed on the packaging for easy identification and easy opening improves the flow of products through the supply chain and avoids waste,” he said.

In a bid to combat food waste, some supermarkets are trialling corrugated board that utilises an ethylene-absorbing agent to slow down fruit and vegetable ripening to help them stay fresher for longer.

Corrugated producers have also invested heavily in moving from a brown box for goods in transit to a three-in-one shelf ready packaging solution comprising product protection, an advertising platform and merchandiser.

The CPI points to research from the Industry Council for Packaging & the Environment (INCPEN) on energy consumption in the food supply chain, which shows that primary and secondary packaging makes up just 10% of the total energy used in feeding one person for a week compared to 51% in the production stages and 31% for home storage and cooking.

Maxine Perella

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