Tech Innovations in Food Packaging Solutions

June 17, 2023
David Sunnyside

In addition to reducing food waste, packaging technologies can also help consumers get more value from their purchases. Some examples include self-heating packaging that uses an exothermic chemical reaction to heat foods, and intelligent packaging that can alert you when your food is approaching its best by date.

Safety enhanced packaging can prevent food spoilage by containing oxygen absorbers or using sensors to detect pathogens. Clear labeling and instructions on how to store food correctly can also reduce waste.

Edible Packaging

Whether it's a wrap that can be eaten along with the food, packaging that disappears or a container made from the same ingredients as the food itself, edible technology could help curb food and packaging waste. Unlike single-use plastics, it's biodegradable and doesn't leach chemicals into foods.

Researchers have developed a variety of edible casings to house foods and drinks, such as fruit-like skins or edible membranes that look like jellyfish. But there are challenges to overcome before these innovations can go mainstream.

Moisture and heat are the enemies of edible films. For instance, a casein film can hold pumpkin soup in a spinach membrane but won't handle the humidity of a warehouse or the heat of an airplane. And the products need to be hygienic enough for long-term storage and transportation.

Active Packaging

Active packaging is a set of materials that react to the environment in order to preserve food. These systems can be designed to control oxygen, carbon dioxide, moisture, ethylene, and flavor. They can be incorporated into food packages as sachets or pads or directly coated onto the packaging.

Oxygen scavenging active packaging reduces oxidative degradation of fresh foods and extends shelf-life. It can also be used to eliminate synthetic preservatives in packaged foods, as well as for reducing microbial spoilage of processed products.

Moisture regulating active packaging maintains the level of moisture in foods such as raisins and dried fruit. It can include films embedded with silica gel desiccants, minerals and other solids. It can also contain encapsulated or nonencapsulated active agents that are generally recognized as safe (GRAS) for food contact.

Reusable Packaging

Reusable packaging, such as glass jars and cloth bags, can be washed and reused several times, reducing waste and conserving resources. Smart packaging incorporates technologies that monitor the condition of food, such as time-temperature indicators and sensors, to inform consumers about its freshness and quality.

Food waste is a burden on company profits, consumer wallets and the climate, so brands are experimenting with ways to reduce it through active and intelligent packaging. Examples include antimicrobial technology to keep food safe during the pandemic and a smart app that allows drivers to swap crates and pallets online, which decreases empty transports and logistics costs (

Startups such as Returnity (US) enable consumers to buy food, beauty products and household items in reusable packaging. Then, they send back the empty packaging for cleaning and refilling, triggering a closed-loop circular economy.

Recyclable Packaging

The poly bags and mailers that your recent ecommerce purchases arrived in as well as the mass of stretch film that wrapped your pallets are probably recyclable, just drop them in the labeled bins at your local grocery store. These packaging materials can be recycled into new plastic food containers thanks to smart technology that provides safety, quality and sustainability monitoring through RFID tags and sensors.

Reusable packaging is a great way to reduce waste. It also saves energy since it only requires cleaning and resealing. It’s a good idea to look for heat-sealable resealing technologies that provide firm, dependable seals. Reusable packaging can be made of many materials, including metal and glass. However, it’s important to choose a material that doesn’t change its properties during recycling or have chemical safety concerns.

Minimalist Packaging

Minimalist packaging is a growing trend that is changing the world of product design. This style of packaging is aimed at reducing waste and conserving raw materials. It also has the added benefit of being environmentally friendly.

A minimalist design allows the product to speak for itself, showing a confidence in its product that customers look for. It can even include a transparent portion that gives the consumer a foretaste of what's inside.

Another aspect of minimalism is minimizing dimensions to conserve material. This is important for shipping, as it cuts down on void fill and saves energy costs. It also helps to protect the product better, as oversized boxes can cause damage. This is why working with a knowledgeable designer is key to getting the best results.

David Sunnyside
Co-founder of Urban Splatter • Digital Marketer • Engineer • Meditator
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