Research shows we should be using more food packaging – for the sake of the environment

New figures from the Technical University of Denmark show that packaging represents less than 1% of the overall environmental impact of food.

You will not hurt the environment to any significant degree if you are one of those consumers who prefer to see that your food is thoroughly packaged in plastic or foam when you buy it in the supermarket.

That is according to new research from the Technical University of Denmark (DTU), writes the magazine Samvirke – a publication of COOP, a leading Danish consumer goods retailer.

Researchers have found that packaging represents less than 1% of the overall environmental impact of food. Therefore, the researchers say that you can safely use more and better packaging, as it can reduce food waste and ultimately protect the environment.

Danish consumers have a misconception about what is good for the food and the environment. Without packaging our food would stay fresh for less time, and food waste, which is significant, would be even greater“, Søren Rahbek Østergaard, packaging expert at the Danish Technological Institute’s department for packaging and transport, says to Samvirke.

Production is tough on the environment
The researchers studied how each food item affects the environment. They looked at various factors such as production, transport, refrigeration, cooking and packaging.

The biggest environmental culprit is the production of food, which accounts for about 70% of the load on the environment. In addition, approximately 30% of the total climate impact is associated with processing and cooling of the finished food item.

Packaging has no practical significance when you calculate the total environmental impact of our food. The greatest environmental impact occurs during the production phase, and if one can prevent food waste, it has potentially large societal benefits – both environmentally and economically”, says Thomas Fruergaard Astrup, a professor at DTU Environment.

(This article is translated from DR Nyheder, a digital Danish news site.)

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