Transforming plastic-based packaging 

Increased consumer awareness of environmental impact has shifted the sector towards more sustainable packaging solutions. International Bakery explores them and their feasibility 

The bakery sector, like many others, has long used plastic-based packaging to wrap and seal bread, muffins, cakes and numerous other products, but the tide seems to be turning. As companies make sustainable and environmental commitments through the shift towards sustainable, plastic alternative packaging, it’s important to explore what options there are for sustainable packaging, and whether this is a viable solution if the industry is to go greener. 

Bakeries worldwide have pledged sustainable packaging targets, according to a report put out by market research company Rabobank, in a commitment to move towards more sustainable packaging. Bimbo Bakeries has provided the best example, according to the report, as in 2019 the company committed to using 100% sustainable packaging for its product portfolio by 2025 – as one of the largest bakery companies in the US, this is no mean feat. According to the company, this includes incorporating alternative packaging materials such as plastic bags, individual wrappers and cardboard boxes for more than 21 brands of bread, buns, bagels, sweet baked goods, and more. This means converting its packaging to sustainable formats in the 32 countries the company operates in by 2025.  

Elsewhere, bakeries small and large, are looking to adopt more sustainable packaging as consumer concerns centre on greener supply chains. One green-tech start-up, Melodea, has developed a plant-sourced barrier coating to protect packaged products from oxygen, oil and grease. The plant-sourced barrier comes from wood pulp, in a move to encourage paper and packaging producers towards more sustainable packaging options and to utilise a sidestream of the paper-making industry. Syntegon announced their own solution, cookie trays made from paper, instead of plastic. They explained that their carton erector uses lock-style technology to field paper trays for cookies, to offer manufacturers more choice and enable them to choose plastic-free solutions for their packaging.  

The companies involved in sustainable packaging can be found far and wide, alongside a growing number of sustainable packaging solutions. Making packaging more sustainable doesn’t need to cut out plastic altogether necessarily – but to reduce the amount used, as Allied Bakeries announced that going forward, their packaging would have less plastic packaging and contain 30% recycled plastic. In the announcement, they explained that this was “technically very challenging, as the process for creating food safe packaging from recycled materials requires advanced packaging processes.” Common solutions for plastic alternative packaging include using recycled and recyclable plastic, home compostable and biodegradable packaging. 

Single-use plastic packaging tends to be discarded, either becoming litter or being buried into a landfill, where it takes a long period of time to biodegrade and labelling inks can pollute water and soil. This is on top of plastic production itself, which tends to use natural gas, derived from natural gas processing or crude oil refining…

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Media contact

Caitlin Gittins
Editor, International Bakery
Tel: +44 (0) 1622 823 920

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