Prevention of product and food waste

In the European Union, around 88 million tonnes of food waste are generated annually with associated costs of 143 billion euros, according to the most recent estimate.

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization warns that one third of all food produced globally is lost or wasted. Food waste happens along the entire value chain: during production, in retail, at eating establishments and at home.

Food waste has significant negative environmental, social, and economic impacts. It represents a missed opportunity to feed the growing world population, a major waste of valuable limited natural resources and a needless source of greenhouse gas emissions that impacts climate change. Wasting food also means wasting resources and efforts put into improving the sustainability of food production.

Packaging has an essential role to play in the prevention of food waste, protecting products and minimising waste at all stages of the value chain. For example:

  • Effective packaging systems can enable efficient distribution while making sure the products they protect stay fresh longer and thus extending its shelf-life.
  • High performance packaging solutions and technologies can preserve food safety by minimizing sources of contamination and reduce food waste from spoilage
  • Innovative packaging designs can help consumers buy and use food in portions that match their needs and reduce food waste from leftovers.
  • By protecting the product, packaging also prevents waste of the energy, fertilizer, raw materials and water that went into growing or making goods and the energy used to transport the goods from the producer to the retailer.

Preventing avoidable product losses and food waste at all stages of the supply chain is a key priority for the EUROPEN members and forms an important part of delivering a circular economy.