New book on packaging and food waste2022-11-14
One third of all the food that is being produced today is thrown away. Why is that? What can producers, service providers and consumers do to reduce food waste? What role does packing play? These are questions that are addressed in the new Swedish book “Stoppa matsvinnet!” (Stop food waste), written by researchers at Karlstad University.
For over 30 years, the authors and researchers Fredrik Wikström and Helén Williams have done research on environmental and sustainability issues and the role of packaging in reducing food waste. They have conducted and published several studies and collaborated with researchers around the world to develop and spread knowledge about food waste. The result of this work is now available in their newly published book.
– It is important that more people have easy access to knowledge about food waste and especially the role of packaging in reducing food waste, says Fredrik Wikström, Professor of Environmental and Energy Systems. It is important in order to reduce the pressure both on the environment as well as your own wallet.
“To solve the issue of food waste, we need a paradigm shift in the way we view packing.”
Packaging has a function and a bigger impact on food waste than most people think. In the end, it is the actual behaviour of people that determines how much food is actually thrown away, and in order to solve the issue of food waste, we need a paradigm shift in the way we view packaging, say the researchers.
– Packaging is often seen as something purely evil from an environmental point of view. A lot of the time we forget the positive side – that packaging which protects the food and increases shelf life reduces the environmental impact, provided that the food is not thrown away, since less food needs to be produced. But to truly reduce the total environmental impact, there needs to be a balance between the negative and positive aspects of packaging, says Helén Williams, Docent in Environmental and Energy Systems.
Tips and guidance for both producers and consumers
The book is addressed to anyone who in their professional life comes into contact with packaging or who has an interest in the environment. In addition to explaining the underlying causes of food waste, the authors provide practical tips and guidance on how producers and consumers can reduce waste.
– In general, we need to value our food more. We hope that producers and grocery store owners start thinking about how they can help consumers reduce their food waste. But for that to happen, consumers must also demand this type of service and not just look for the cheapest price. If you throw away less food, it can sometimes be more economical to, for example, buy smaller packages – even if they are more expensive. There are many ways in which you can reduce food waste. A good place to start is to identify what type of food you throw away and why. This will set the ball rolling, according to the researchers.
The Swedish book "“Stoppa matsvinnet! – en förpackad lösning (Stop food waste – a packaged solution)" was published in October by the publisher Fri Tanke. The authors Fredrik Wikström and Helén Williams both work at the Service Research Center (CTF) and the subject of Environmental and Energy Systems at Karlstad University and are among the leading researchers in the world when it comes to packaging and food waste.