In the fight against food waste, the German government plans to back intelligent packaging as well.
On 20 February, the German Federal Cabinet adopted a strategy to reduce food waste introduced by Julia Klöckner, Federal Minister of Food and Agriculture. One point in this strategy is “intelligent packaging”. Packaging that accurately indicates the wholesomeness and safety of foods is to be developed quickly ready for the market and tested in practice for its actual contribution to reducing food waste. Through its innovation programme, the Federal Ministry is promoting relevant research projects that also address challenging issues, such as the sustainable production of this type of packaging.
The German Packaging Institute e.V. (dvi) welcomes Julia Klöckner’s initiative to halve the amount of discarded food by 2030. Kim Cheng, Managing Director of dvi, explains: “Modern packaging has always continually improved the shelf life of our food. We can further expand these services through innovations such as active or intelligent packaging. In addition, these packagings can communicate with consumers in a very precise and understandable way, informing them about the quality of the goods”.
From dvi’s point of view, a crucial factor for the mass use of intelligent packaging functions will be that they are implemented in a recyclable manner. “The indicators integrated on or in the packaging must either be made of the same material as the rest of the packaging so that they can be recycled together, or be separable from the packaging during the recycling process leaving no residues behind and fed to another suitable recycling process,” says Kim Cheng.
The packaging industry is highly innovative. “There have been intelligent and active packaging solutions for years, some of which are already in widespread use, for example for fruit and vegetables”. For instance, special corrugated cardboard which absorbs and neutralizes the ripening gas, ethylene, that is naturally released by the apples is used for apple crates. This allows fruit and vegetables to be stored for longer and one rotten apple “no longer spoils the others”.
The Federal Association of the German Retail Grocery Trade (BVLH) also expressed its support for the Federal Government’s strategy to reduce food losses, stating that “The food trade participates actively and with discernment in implementing the strategy at Association and company level. In their measures to reduce food losses, retailers must always strike a balance between competition, customer orientation and sustainability.