Plastic food packaging has come a long way, especially when it comes to sustainability. Now, a recent study has taken the first major step in increasing the acceptance of foodservice packaging in curbside recycling pickups—but there's still more work to be done.
The Food Residue Study
Packaging World reports that a study completed by the Foodservice Packaging Institute (FPI) has made a potential breakthrough in its advocacy for curbside pickup of recyclable plastic food packaging. The study has found that despite the commonplace anxiety over food residue on foodservice packaging, foodservice packaging demonstrates no significant increase in residue over any other type of plastic food packaging. It determined this by taking a random sampling of about 2,000 pounds of curbside recyclables, which it sorted by type before measuring the food residue content.
Though this is only one study that was performed in one city, the results could indicate a future increase in the acceptance of curbside recycling pickup that includes foodservice packaging. But what does that mean for packaging companies?
Prioritizing Thoughtful Design
At PI, we regularly manufacture foodservice packaging like stock packaging, so we've seen firsthand how important it is to carefully plan and execute the right design. In our experience, plastic food packaging like this has to be designed with the right material, in the right size and shape, and with sustainability in mind.
This means that packaging companies manufacturing foodservice packaging have to be just as mindful, especially when it comes to sensitive issues like food residue. The FPI study is just one of many steps toward perfecting the sustainability of this type of packaging, and many of the other steps are entirely up to the manufacturer. Designing plastic food packaging that doesn't retain residue will continue to be critical in improving sustainability.
There are plenty of ways that a packaging company can prevent plastic food packaging from retaining too much food residue. Using the right material, for example, can prevent problems like reheated food baking into or clinging to the plastic container. Eliminating unnecessary nooks and crannies that can retain sauce and condiments, too, can help prevent the buildup of residue.
As we've learned over the years, it takes plenty of work and experimentation to find a winning design formula. The more you know about the things you need to prevent, though, the better you can concentrate on the things you need to provide.