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  • Writer's pictureKubepac

The significance of food waste and the role of packaging

Food security is an emerging challenge for policy makers and companies in the food supply chain. The global population is expected to increase by another 2 billion people by 2050, putting more pressure on resources.


In South Africa, food production is under threat from climate change, competing land uses, erosion and diminishing supplies of clean water. When food is lost or wasted, all of the natural resources that were expended in the supply chain are also lost, including the use of land, nutrients, synthetic fertilisers, water and energy.

As every new step in the value chain adds resources and emissions, the waste of cooked food at the consumer or food service level has the highest environmental impact. One of the solutions to this dilemma is increased efficiency and waste reduction in the food supply chain.

Around 40% of all food intended for human consumption in developed countries ends up as waste.

In South Africa 4.2 million tonnes of food ends up in landfill each year—2.7 million tonnes from households and 1.5 million tonnes from the commercial and industrial sector.

Some of this is unavoidable waste from processing and preparation, but much of it is avoidable. Food manufacturers generate a significant amount of organic waste but recover almost 90%, primarily as animal feed or compost.

The biggest opportunities for waste reduction and recovery are therefore in other parts of the supply chain, particularly in distribution, food service and in the home.

Packaging has a vital role to play in containing and protecting food as it moves through the supply chain to the consumer. It already reduces food waste in transport and storage, and innovations in packaging materials, design and labelling provide new opportunities to improve efficiencies.

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