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Sustenance Becomes Sustainable

Climate change is real. Making a shift to sustainable practices where ever possible is the need of the hour. In this article, we will talk about how the Food and Beverage industry is heading towards a sustainable direction by redefining its processes.

The F&B industry is responsible for close to a third of the world’s carbon emissions. An ever-growing population means more mouths to feed and more food to produce. Millions, if not billions of food products get processed every day in factories all across the globe. One of the most deleterious features of food retailers is the packaging waste that they generate. It has been estimated that every year, around 800,000 tonnes of plastic waste comes from food retailers alone. This is enough waste to cover the entire city of London to a depth of 2.5cm. Just dealing with the packaging problem can go a long way in protecting the planet.

This is where tech comes to save the day, by making packaging full recyclable and easier to unwrap. Different food products need different packaging materials. The trend of finding innovative ways of packaging food products with biodegradable or reusable packaging has caught up fast with food companies. Taking a step towards the sustainable direction, Nestle has announced that by 2025, it would convert all of its products to reusable or recyclable packaging. In an unprecedented first, in 2019, it launched its YES! snack bars packaged in completely recyclable paper wrappers. The paper wrapper is from sustainable sources, certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and The Program for the Endorsement of Forest Certification. This paper wrapper is just as competent as the regular plastic wrapper and can ensure freshness and high product quality throughout the shelf life.

Plastic water bottles are massive contributors to plastic pollution. The present PET bottles take an average of 1000 years to decompose. The landfills of most countries are swamped with these bottles and these bottles are major pollutants of our oceans as well. By recycling these PET bottles instead of disposing of them, waste can be converted into a resource. Evian, a top mineral water company has made a move to produce all of its water bottles through recyclable resources. In 2019, it unveiled its first 100% recycled plastic bottle made out of recyclable PET (rPET). By 2025, it aims to convert all of the bottles being manufactured to rPET.

You know those plastic rings that hold a six-pack of beer together? When these plastic rings land in the ocean, sea animals often end up getting trapped in them and suffer a painful death. Carlsberg, a Danish beer company, will be the first beer producer to bid adieux to these rings. Instead, they’ll use a new type of re-engineered recyclable glue to hold the packs together. Through this venture, this brewery is eliminating close to 1300 tons of plastic per year and is reducing the amount of plastic used in traditional multipacks by up to 76 percent.

Another major pollutant of the oceans is plastic straws. If not the oceans, plastic straws simply disintegrate into even smaller particles, releasing chemicals into the soil, air, and water that are detrimental to the people and the environment. Several organizations have come to realize the repercussions of utilizing plastic straws and have taken conscious efforts to make a shift towards more sustainable options. In 2018, Starbucks has started phasing out plastic straws and now, all Starbucks stores across the world are officially plastic-straw-free. However, for blended drinks like the Frappuccino, straws would be provided, upon request. This gesture is estimated to have saved the world from the production of close to 1 billion plastic straws per year.

Last year, Sodexo, a French food services and facilities management company, announced that it would be obliterating unrecyclable and single-use plastic from its supply chain. Sodexo’s retail operations will also stop providing single-use plastic bags and will offer customers paper or reusable bags to purchase as an alternative.

While a lot is going on at a global level to figure out ways to make processes greener and planet-friendly, we as individuals too can play our part in the task. Recycling plastic waste and resorting to non-plastic choices where ever possible can sure go a long way in dealing with the sustainability conundrum.


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