Ever since 2018, the frozen food industry has witnessed a pivotal change alongside steady growth as a result of old stereotypes about poor nutrition being overcome through better business practices.
However, where there’s consumption there is waste, and although frozen food as an industry has been infamously known for producing large amounts of waste, once again it is shifting its views to better serve society and the planet.
One of the greatest hallmarks of this shift is the adoption of corn-based biodegradable packaging, which although being extremely beneficial to the environment, is not well known by the public
So, in order to widen your understanding of this wonderful material, we are going to cover all the ways in which it is making the frozen food industry better.
In order to understand what biodegradable is, you need to understand that plastic is extremely durable and in nature, it can take upwards to 1000 years to fully decompose.
In other words, once the plastic is dumped into a landfill or (god forbid) the ocean, it’s going to stay there for a very long time, adding up to 8 million tons of plastic that find their way into the ecosystem every year.
Biodegradable packaging, on the other hand, is made of materials plant-based materials like the aforementioned corn, orange peels, or sugarcane, which decompose on a faster rate, meaning it can be more easily taken apart and absorbed by the earth.
Biodegradable vs Recyclable
Now, you may be wondering why the industry would want to make packages that decompose faster instead of recycling the plastic that was already made.
Indeed, recycling is of extreme importance, but it often comes with a series of caveats that are not found in biodegradable materials.
Firstly, just because a piece of plastic is marked as recyclable, it does not mean it actually will actually be recycled.
In fact, according to Our World in Data, “(In 2015), an estimated 55 percent of global plastic waste was discarded, 25 percent was incinerated, and 20 percent recycled.”
Out of this whopping 80% of plastic waste that was never converted and reused, how much do you think had the recyclable label on it?
Biodegradable, on the other hand, tackles this issue by ensuring the material gets converted into water, oxygen, carbon monoxide, and water at reasonable rates, ensuring its absorption by nature in a reasonable time.
Therefore, instead of running a fruitless race to recycle all the produced waste, it is much more practical to ensure the waste we produce is not as aggressive to the planet.
Polylactic acid, or PLA, is a plastic substitute made from fermented corn starch that is being rapidly adopted by many eco-conscious companies like Walmart.
Environmental journalist, Larry West, perfectly summarized the main strength of PLA in his article for ThoughtCo, where it reads: Many industries are using PLA because they are capable of degrading at a much faster rate than plastic while still offering the same level of sanitation and utility.
Another advantage of corn-based biodegradable packaging is that being produced from a carbon-absorbing plant, very little air pollution is generated from its production.
Also, due to how easy it is to grow corn, the mass production of PLA can be achieved with minimal environmental impact.
PLA is also much lighter than other plastics meaning less fuel will be spent on its transport, further diminishing the emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
Corn-Based Plastic and Frozen Food
Now that we understand the benefits of biodegradable packaging for the environment, should a frozen food shipping company go for biodegradable packaging?
One of the biggest reasons is that being plant-based, PLA offers greater food safety than normal plastics which often release dangerous chemicals that contaminate the contents of the package.
Much like PLA won’t ruin the food, there is also very little chance of it ruining the packaging as this biodegradable plastic has a natural resistance to the fats and oils released by the food.
It also offers an excellent aroma barrier which helps to keep the food fresh for longer without the need for chemical additives.
To produce, preserve and ship frozen food is a challenging task on its own, but when we take into account the amount of waste that may be produced from the production line to your kitchen, a new layer is added to that challenge.
Fortunately, we can always count on human ingenuity, propelled by the necessity to protect our environment, to come up with new solutions to these challenges.
Corn-based biodegradable packaging is just one of the ways in which the industry has been able to mitigate its impact on the environment, and we are constantly looking for new ways to take this mentality a step further.
So, if you have any suggestions on how frozen food companies can make their products more eco-friendly, be sure to share it with us in the comments below!