The food and drinks industry constantly strives to provide effective and safe packaging that appeals to customers, and this means adapting to customer demands.

Today, consumers are far more aware of the need to be environmentally friendly and seek out products that are more sustainable. With the concerns of their customers in mind, manufacturers of food and beverage packaging are starting to take steps towards adopting more eco-friendly packaging that is just as functional, safe and cost effective. So what exactly makes packaging eco-friendly, and in what ways is the food and drinks industry adapting to provide this?

Lightweight and Easily Recyclable

Packaging is considered to be eco-friendly if it’s easily recyclable. Eco-friendly packaging should be easy to recycle and easy to repurpose in order to reduce environmental waste and the risk of packaging ending up on landfill sites. Plastic is an extremely popular packaging material for food and drink – it’s flexible and fairly cheap to produce, yet is a big concern for the environment. However, many plastic packaging products are both reusable and recyclable, and plastic recycling is increasing, with plastic recycling requiring far less energy than that needed to recycle glass. As a result, many manufacturers look for more efficient ways to use plastic for packaging, with some brands updating bottle design to use less plastic overall.  

Lightweight packaging can prove an eco-friendly option, with less material and manufacturing needed. For food and beverage packaging, this has seen many manufacturers switch from glass to plastic material for drinks packaging in particular. As plastic is lighter than glass, it’s much cheaper to transport as less fuel is required, cutting vehicle emissions and reducing our carbon footprint. For drinks in particular, lightweight polyethylene terephthalate (PET) is becoming an increasingly popular choice, with even the smallest weight reduction meaning less packaging to dispose of.   

Biodegradable Packaging

An important step towards eco-friendly packaging in the drinks industry is the recently released edible six-pack rings, a brand new approach to sustainable beer packaging. Plastic packaging that is improperly disposed of and not recycled often ends up in the ocean, and this can be deadly for wildlife. These biodegradable, recyclable rings, however, are made from barley and wheat ribbons leftover from the beer brewing process, and thanks to this, they can be 100% safely eaten by wildlife. Although these rings are not yet readily available, they highlight how the industry is thinking outside the box to create packaging materials that make use of waste products and leave no ecological footprints, and are a good indicator of things to come in the future.

But the introduction of biodegradable packaging isn’t a new concept. Stand up paper pouches are one example of packaging already being used by many brands for food products including coffee, tea, seeds and supplements. An effective packaging solution, stand up pouches are environmentally friendly as they are easily recyclable and often made from biodegradable materials. Flexible yet functional, stand up pouches are becoming an integral part of food packaging for both manufacturers and customers, demonstrating how eco-friendly packaging is not unusual for food and drinks packaging.

The packaging industry is constantly evolving to create more environmentally friendly packaging. With more and more brands from the food and drinks industry aiming to ‘go green’ with their packaging, whilst ensuring high quality, reliable and efficient products, environmentally friendly packaging is only bound to improve.