Packaging Technology

Online tool empowers companies looking to produce sustainable plastic packaging

The ‘Understanding Packaging (UP) Scorecard’ compares and ranks individual single-use plastic items such as foodware and food packaging materials according to environmental criteria.

Companies continue to make packaging blunders in their quest to achieve zero waste reduction goals.

Often, product manufacturers run a fine line between quality and sustainability.

Permeability, moisture and light sensitivity, rigidity, flexibility as well as temperature stability are only a few of the criteria that packaging needs to fulfil, especially when it comes to fresh food applications.

Advances in bioplastics as well as more new- fangled options such as mushroom or seaweed-based packaging have left manufacturers in a tizzy as labels such as ‘biodegradable’, ‘biobased’, ‘compostable’ and ‘eco-friendly’ abound, rendering the conversation around sustainability more complicated than ever.

A new online tool is set to help companies reduce their respective environmental footprints by providing deeper insights to the usually flaunted terms.

Said tool (‘Understanding Packaging (UP) Scorecard’) systematically evaluates packaging materials according to six criteria, which are as follows: water use, sustainable sourcing, recoverability, toxic chemicals, climate and plastic pollution.

The scorecard allows businesses to make informed decisions on their food grade packaging choices by serving as a technical resource.

It is currently available as a beta-version

Having been developed by a multi-stakeholder team of environmental non-profits, technical experts as well as food service companies, the assessments reflect rigorous science that can provide valuable insights to companies across the food industry looking to tackle the plastic packaging crisis.

According to the Sustainable Packaging Coalition, brand owners and retailers are prevalently focused on producing recoverable, that is, reusable or recyclable packaging. In this sense, recycling tops the list of priorities, followed by reusability at 59% and compostability at 49%.