Feb 28, 2019

'S' is the word

Wow, we are almost at the end of the second month of the New Year, and I have feeling that this year is going to be one of those years that just flies by!

Already, I have been to Auckland twice, Hawkes Bay and Gisborne to visit customers as well as attend the PMA Australia/NZ networking event with Jo Mackie which was well worth attending as David Stewart the General Manager Merchandise at Foodstuffs was guest speaker and shared how Foodstuffs works (proudly 100% Kiwi owned and operated) along with their knowledge on trends in Fresh Produce in NZ.

I signed off last year talking about the ‘S’ word and I’m picking it up again this time as there is not a day goes by where I don’t have a conversation about it. Over the last 4-5 years we have been delivering and leading the conversations on environmental packaging to the fresh produce industry. Produce is often in the gun for perceived ‘over-packaging’ however there are a number of produce categories that rely on packaging for their products in order to extend shelf life and reduce food waste, tamper proof, keep costs under control, provide a high level of visual appeal along with other benefits such as ease of automation. We have products in our portfolio that can do all of the above and more to be introduced to the market.

Making the decision to go green is a simple one. How to get there on the other hand is not, as understanding the various packaging options is often a challenge for both individuals and companies. When talking about sustainable packaging people often get compostable and biodegradable mixed up as well as not understanding that there is a difference between ‘certified compostable’ and certified ‘OK compost HOME’.

In signing off I have put technical meanings below for the three key words that are being used around the ‘S’ word in the packaging industry.

Biodegradable packaging materials are broken down by bacteria, fungi, or other microorganisms. This occurs through either anaerobic (without oxygen) or aerobic (with oxygen) degradation. Unlike other sustainable products, biodegradable materials are not required to meet any specific industry standards or regulations however, it does mean it will break down when placed in land fill.

In the packaging world, Compostable means something a bit different. When a product is called “compostable” is that it can be turned into compost… if entered into an industrial composting facility. This is an important distinction. Compostable products do not always biodegrade naturally in a landfill. They have to be placed in the right kind of conditions, conditions that are often only found in industrial compost facilities. Compostable products will take much longer to break down if in a landfill, especially an “air locked” landfill where there will be no oxygen.

OK compost HOME: owing to the relatively smaller volume of waste involved, the temperature in the garden compost heap is clearly lower and less constant than in an industrial composting environment. This is why composting in the garden is a more difficult, slower-paced process.

This post was written by

Ann Cameron

Ann is the Sales Manager for consumables. She gets a kick out of helping her customers implement the right packaging options for their products because it can make a real difference to their business.