A panel of six guests from different disciplines including food manufacturing, packaging, machinery supply, academia and legislative, together with an invited audience of around 30 people from a number of backgrounds, will look at the many issues and factors involved in tackling this issue. The event takes place on 13th February and will also be transmitted live via a webinar, with the ability for participants to contribute as well.
Confirmed members of the round table so far are Professor Martin Howarth of Sheffield Hallam University, Andy Griffith, Head of Value Chain Sustainability at Nestlé, and Ed Roberts, Regional Sustainability Director EMEA, Sealed Air.
Ahead of the event, the Advanced Services Group is undertaking independent research into the topic and the findings from this will form the basis for the discussions on the day. The debate will be chaired by Dr Stella Despoudi, Lecturer in Operations and Supply Chain Management at Aston Business School, who will collate the findings into a White Paper.
The aim of the round table is to provide a forum where the concerns, needs and expectations of many different groups – from scientific and technical personnel, food manufacturers and packaging suppliers to governments, NGOs, retailers and consumers – can be shared and their different perspectives understood. This co-ordinated approach will help to identify a common purpose and the best way to tackle the issues raised.
“There is now much greater awareness of sustainability issues throughout the food supply chain and the end-consumer,” explains Ross Townshend, Business Unit Manager EMEA at Ishida Europe. “However, the focus on packaging – most notably the very negative publicity now surrounding plastic – can sometimes affect the equally important area of preventing food waste.
“We need to create a better understanding about the suitability of different materials in delivering some of the essential objectives of packaging in terms of product protection and preservation, to help ensure decisions about pack formats are made for the best reasons. For example, is it good practice to change a pack format to one that is potentially more sustainable but might reduce shelf life and therefore increase the risk of unnecessary food waste?”
Another key focus of discussions will be on how to ensure that packaging solutions can become part of a circular economy with a greater focus on recovery, recycling and reuse.
“The current food supply chain system based on the linear operating model is unquestionably unsustainable,” comments Dr Stella Despoudi. “The circular economy has emerged in food supply chains due to the need for organisations to become more sustainable, but food waste is one of the biggest challenges with estimates that between 25% and 50% of food produced is lost or wasted along the supply chain.
“Food packing is key to achieving circular food supply chains and it is therefore important to uncover the best practices to develop future sustainable food packaging from all the different stakeholders’ perspectives.”
“We are very proud to be sponsoring this important discussion,” concludes Ross Townshend. “Despite many advances in packaging and packing technology over the years, food waste is still a major issue in developed countries while in other parts of the world we are continuing to see malnutrition and starvation.
“Clearly there is much that needs to be done and we hope an event such as this will help to bring focus to some of the key challenges that have to be addressed and overcome.
“Equally important, as a packing machinery supplier, discussions on pack materials and formats will be invaluable in helping us to develop equipment solutions that can handle the next generation of pack types.”