The last decade has seen a significant increase in awareness and concern about the environment, perhaps prompted by the renewed attention given to global warming and findings that reveal some of the harsh realities of the future of the planet.
A New Generation Where Eco-friendly is Important
As the younger generation become consumers in greater number, this concern for the environment will naturally be reflected in purchasing habits. Those who are today labelled as ‘millennials’ are more likely to live through the impact of climate change and the increasing scarcity of fossil fuels and this concern is likely to be continued in the generations that follow. For businesses, this means the environmental impact of food packaging is more important than ever. Environmental consciousness is only likely to increase as we move forward and this needs to be taken into account, especially by high-volume food outlets where the attitude to the environment is conveyed every time a purchase is made.
The question of the affordability of biodegradable materials for food packaging is not a simple one to answer. For businesses who choose sustainable food packaging solutions, the immediate cost to the business isn’t necessarily significantly higher compared to using non-sustainable options. However, the positive impact of using sustainable options has on how the business is viewed by the public often outweighs any additional cost. With the increase in public awareness, this effect is only going to grow.
Eco-friendly & The Potential to Recycle
When the public, in general, continues to become increasingly aware that eco-friendly packaging is available, the expectation is also that this will be used by fast food outlets, restaurants etc. Because reusable food packaging options aren’t likely to be suitable for small fast food outlets, the expectation will be that the material should be recycled as there’s little opportunity for the packaging to be used again by the end consumer. Popular app-based fast-food ordering systems such as Just Eat already make clear reference to their negative attitude towards plastic cutlery and how this won’t be provided. This is something of a new addition to such apps and reflects a changing public attitude that businesses cannot ignore.
Technology – Plant-Based Food Packaging
The question surrounding affordability is one that will change over the coming years. Historically, manufacturing processes have made it such that the cost of producing eco-friendly versions of packaging have been higher, but this may not always be the case. There have been compelling developments around the use of smart plant-based food packaging which is an all-round much better option from an eco-friendly point of view and given enough time, could completely swing the argument in the other direction.