Tackling the thorny issue of food waste, we look at the great green work of tesa and their resourceful Lift & Reseal…
UK packaging industry is making good progress on techniques that reduce such excess which others would do well to emulate. So says tesa UK’s Country Head Steve Plastow, who has recently returned to take up this role for the second time following a three-year stint in charge of the company’s Nordic region, which takes in Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Finland. And to illustrate this he points to the levels of collaboration between packaging specialists, food brands and retailers in Britain which target the level of food waste produced both on the shelf and in the home.
tesa has in-depth experience of this process while developing its own solution, an in-line application of a tape called Lift & Reseal which is now widely used across a range of instantly recognisable food brands, among them packaging on such staples as sugar and dried fruit but also extending to snacks and crispbreads.
Britain may have the dubious distinction of leading Europe’s league table in terms of food waste, and government statistics show that 7.2 million tonnes of food and drinks are thrown away in the UK every year, costing the consumer a staggering estimated £12 billion. Much of this is post-purchase waste, where consumers sometimes take more account of the sell-by/eat-by date than they do of careful storage.
Some organisations, among them the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in a report published in 2013, claim that this end-dating is unnecessarily strict, but also highlight poor storage as a key contributor to the problem. tesa’s experience in the UK underlines both the concern that providers at various stages of the distribution chain have to improve matters and the willingness of brands to take the appropriate measures to contribute towards a more balanced position between purchase and consumption.
Steve Plastow says that other European countries can look at the developments in Britain for inspiration. In matters of conservation, sustainability and eco-friendly corporate behaviour it’s often assumed that all developed European
countries are well-advanced but with mitigating factors at work – many consumers tend to buy smaller quantities of food products and shop more often, just for today and tomorrow, rather than the week, longevity and freshness on the consumers’ shelf is not seen as quite so important in some. Generally, the UK packaging industry has taken a more progressive stance on freshness and resealing techniques, with perhaps more than a glance at the global market, not simply the domestic one.”
When tesa developed Lift & Reseal the company spent a long time co-operating with brand owners who, in turn, were consulting with their major customers, the big retail groups. Feedback to the company was that any solution had to provide a highly efficient in-line option with no disruption to production and minimal impact on cost. Based on a high-spec tape, it delivers a simple reclosure which will reclose packs up to 20 times. It is quick and straightforward for consumers to use and will be seen as a contributor to changing consumer behaviour and attitudes to packaging.
“It’s an often heard complaint from consumers about the cost of packaging as a proportion of retail price”, says Steve. “But in the food industry the case for the packaging industry is totally vindicated.” To enforce this, Steve highlights the WRAP agency’s report on food waste which notes that “packaging has an important role to play in protecting and reserving food and a lot of work is being done to optimise packaging. Estimates suggest that food waste has at least 10 times the environmental impact of packaging waste and that’s excluding the impact of methane from food in landfill (source – Advisory Committee on Packaging).
IT’S A WRAP
Whilst government targets on reduction of food waste by 2025 are demanding, tesa’s experience suggests that in the UK the packaging sector is doing much to contribute and Steve endorses the conclusion of a WRAP report that says “small changes in behaviour around packaging and continued innovation could deliver the benefits consumers are looking for – keeping food fresh for longer, saving money and reducing the impact of food waste on the environment.”
Based on his experience both of the UK and other packaging industries, Steve expects tesa to contribute to that process of innovation with a packaging industry that is receptive and enthusiastic about new ideas.