Environmental Impact of Different Types of Plastic

With a lot of emphasis on the environmental benefits of various packaging types, this infographic shows the fossil resource and greenhouse gas savings compared to different types of polymers.

The statistics were recently released by the Germany-based nova-Institut.

Environmental impact of different types of plastic

Smart packaging tackling food waste

Advanced Packaging Technology World reports on the efforts to enhance packaging, to combat food wastage.

It is estimated that 5-7% of food is lost in the perishable food sector because of poor inventory management. One approach that could deal with this food waste is the use of smart packaging systems.

With integrated systems, stocks could be monitored much more efficiently. A good example of this is the automated ordering and price markdowns that the Dutch grocery retailer Albert Heijn has tested. In addition, SAP's Future Retail Centre is looking at how RFID and temperature sensors on pallets and food packaging could be used to give store managers real-time information to avoid food wastage, as produce makes it way to the store front.

The packaging industry has been waiting for some time for RFID chips to become cheap enough to use in packaging. Recently announced by EU-funded project Oricla, a new thin-film RFID chip has been developed that can intelligently respond with the reader in a so-called 'reader-talks-first' communication.

The applications for intelligent packaging innovations have been known for some years, but silicon-based chip manufacturer has remained stubbornly high. Using thin-film looks set to change that. The technology offers A&I packaging developers new ways to interrogate the food the packaging contains, and communicate this to the consumer and every touch point in the supply chain.

Food packaging technology has been focused on the development of new techniques to reduce food wastage once the produce is on sale. However, the advances in printed electronics could herald a new era of packaging design and intelligence.UK start-up PragmatIC Printing is investigating the use of printed logic circuits and how these could be used with packaging, which in turn could offer food wastage reductions.

However, as PragmatIC CEO Scott White points out, this technology is not imminent: 'The potential to combine electrochemical sensors for monitoring of environmental conditions, food freshness and so on is clear. In our opinion this is several years out, since it only really makes sense when the entire solution, not just the printed logic, is extremely cheap - that is, around the $0.01 mark or lower.'This is particularly the case for sensors, where in practice there are often simpler and cheaper solutions using non-electronic functional materials, such as thermochromic or hydrochromic inks.'

Read an in-depth feature on packaging innovations that are solving food waste in BRIC supply chains in the latest issue of Advanced Packaging Technology World. To get your sample issue go to our enquiry page, select 'Publications' from the drop down menu, and enter 'Advanced Packaging Sample' in the comments box.

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