The Waste Reduction and Environmental Benefits of Vacuum Packaging in the Food Processing Industry

by | Mar 30, 2023 | Blog

Waste Reduction and Environmental Benefits of Vacuum Packaging

The use of plastic packaging is unavoidable in the food manufacturing industry as there are currently no alternatives that deliver the same levels of performance, safety, and quality. That said, how you use plastic packaging can still have a positive environmental impact. In this blog, we are putting vacuum packaging in the spotlight.

A key priority for most food manufacturers is to reduce the amount of plastic that is used in food packaging. This is also a priority for your customers, from large supermarkets to well-informed, eco-conscious consumers.

While focusing on the importance of reducing plastic packaging in food production, it is also essential that packaging does its job. Primarily, this involves keeping food products fresh after processing and up to the point of consumption. For retail products, shelf appearance and product presentation are also crucially important.

Vacuum packaging achieves these objectives, as it keeps products safe. Vacuum-packaged products also look good on supermarket shelves.

Reducing Plastic Waste by Using Vacuum Packaging

Vacuum packaging uses considerably less plastic than alternative forms of packaging. For example, vacuum packaging minced beef can result in a 55 percent reduction in plastic compared to traditional tray packaging. Vacuum packaging other types of products can reduce plastic waste by even more.

Furthermore, as there is less packaging, less packaging needs to be manufactured. This reduces the environmental impact of packaging production, including the CO2 emissions that are produced.

Reducing Food Waste by Using Vacuum Packaging

Vacuum packaging also reduces food waste as it prevents oxidation, ensuring food stays fresher and safer for longer. Given the amount of food that we as a society currently throw away at all stages of the product lifecycle, any reduction in food waste is beneficial.

One of those benefits is less plastic. After all, less food waste also translates to less plastic waste as a proportion of the food that is currently thrown away is contained inside plastic packaging.

The sustainability benefits of vacuum packaging and reducing food waste go even further than this. This is because food typically requires significantly more resources to produce than is used to manufacture packaging – resources such as energy, water, and materials.

The plastic packaging used in food manufacturing rightly has a high profile when it comes to reducing the impact we are having on the environment. Simple elimination is not always the most effective option, however, as reducing food waste and/or increasing shelf life by using optimised plastic packaging (including vacuum packaging) can have a greater and more positive environmental impact.

Other Benefits of Vacuum Packaging for Food Manufacturers

  • Preserves food products – vacuum packaging helps prevent products from spoiling as it eliminates the oxygen that bacteria and mould need to grow. This can increase the shelf life of products, particularly meat and dairy products.
  • Improves food quality – removing the oxygen from your food products helps to retain texture and flavour.
  • Improves food safety – vacuum packaging helps food stay fresh, but it also prevents cross-contamination and provides protection from external elements.
  • Protection from freezer burn – if customers buy and then freeze your products, the quality of the product can deteriorate because of freezer burn if it is not vacuum packaged.
  • Takes up less space – vacuum packaged food takes up less space in the fridges and freezers of your customers.
  • Simpler food preservation – vacuum packaging reduces the need for alternative preservation techniques.
  • Improved shelf appeal – vacuum packaging enhances the presentation of retail food products, not least because vacuum packaging is typically transparent. This means consumers can see the food they are buying rather than it being hidden inside the packaging.

Transitioning to Vacuum Packaging

Transitioning to vacuum packaging for the food products you manufacture can help meet your sustainability goals and deliver on the expectations of your customers. Our team at SF Engineering can help with your transition to vacuum packaging with our food processing equipment, line, and factory solutions.

This includes manufacturing and integrating solutions for both downstream and upstream processes, including conveyors to transport product to and from vacuum packaging machines. Get in touch today to arrange a consultation with a member of our team.