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Foodservice Packaging Requires Infrastructure, Standards for Fully Circular Economy

Infrastructure is one of the core challenges for the UK foodservice packaging industry as it strives toward a truly circular economy, writes Phil Davidson, senior manager for sustainability Europe & Asia at HAVI (via Packaging Europe). In order to reduce packaging waste at the end of the packaging lifecycle, packaging manufacturers not only need to look at how they reduce the material used in product creation at the beginning of the cycle, but at the infrastructure – or lack thereof – that exists after the food is consumed (or thrown away). And as the food service industry itself works to save money, an increase in recyclable packaging will be a welcome boost to help decrease the amount of waste sent to landfills.

Manufacturers know that if less material is used in packing food, less will be wasted later on, and have thus been seeking new approaches to packaging. But even when packaging is able to be repurposed into new packaging and products, there is no national system to gather and recycle food service packaging, Davidson writes.

3 Steps to a Circular Economy in Food Packaging

So in order to resolve the issue of making food packaging 100% recyclable, companies in the foodservice packaging industry need to make three things happen:

–Continue to research and develop recyclable material for food transport;

–Establish industry standards for packaging;

–Develop the necessary infrastructure to make this all happen.

Still, the foodservice packaging industry, with its use of compostable packaging, has made strides in terms of increasing food scrap diversion rates. “As the use of compostable packaging grows, so too should the opportunities to successfully recover those items,” said Lynn Dyer, president of the Foodservice Packaging Institute, on the release of a new review on the impact of compostable packaging.

Hospitality Sector Benefits from Compostable Packaging

Hospitality is one sector that is actively focused on reducing food waste. To reduce waste sent to landfill, companies like Hilton Hotels & Resorts have created initiatives within their organizations to reduce waste across the board, including in their restaurants, points out Waste 360. Hilton has added food waste disposal systems that dispose of compostable packaging organic food waste onsite, converting it into environmentally safe water and reducing disposal costs. Hilton partnered with ORCA, a subsidiary of Totally Green Inc., to add the waste disposal systems at a number of its hotels.

Hilton developed a proprietary corporate responsibility performance measurement platform, LightStay, that calculates and analyzes the environmental and societal impact of every Hilton Worldwide branded hotel in their communities. The platform measures waste output, energy use, water use, and carbon output at every Hilton Worldwide hotel around the globe. In the six years since LightStay was initially launched as a brand standard, Hilton Worldwide has reduced waste output by 27.6%, energy consumption by 14.5%, and water consumption by 14.1%. LightStay has also allowed Hilton Worldwide to save $550 million during that time.

LightStay won an Environmental Leader Product of the Year Award in 2016.

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