More than just hot air
As food and beverage manufacturers work to reduce their carbon footprints, packaging will play a significant role.
An Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) report produced in 2018 revealed that the planet’s top five meat and dairy producers emit more greenhouse gasses that any one of the international petroleum giants.
Not surprising considering that this report takes into account the entire supply chain required to produce these foods. For most food and beverage manufacturers, direct operations (owned fleet use, purchased electricity and natural gas) amount to only 10-20% of their total carbon footprint. The bulk comes from outside their direct operations, including farming, third party transportation, and packaging.
The effects of weight and last mile delivery are even more pronounced when one considers the momentous growth of e-commerce in consumer package goods. The U.S. Department of Commerce reports that total e-commerce sales for 2018 were an estimated $513.6 billion, and increase of over 14% from 2017. Considering that the average consumer isn’t forgoing trips to the store—and that expedited freight contributes an increase in carbon dioxide emissions per shopper—e-commerce adds piles up even more greenhouse gasses.
Most of the top food and beverage manufacturers, however, appear earnest in their efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. A 2018 study by Ceres revealed that these companies striving to reduce emissions by 8 to 28% in the next 5 to 8 years and by up to 50% by 10-20 years. For this purpose, emissions are categorized in the following three “scopes”:
Scope 1: Direct emissions from owned or controlled sources
Scope 2: Indirect emissions from the generation of purchased energy
Scope 3: Indirect emissions that occur in the value chain, both upstream and downstream.
Innovative packaging like Tetra Recart™ retortable cartons can work to reduce emissions in all three areas. Products packaged in retortable cartons (soups, for example) spend less time in the oven. That’s because the carton’s materials are thinner, allowing the product inside to reach sterilization temperature more quickly. Less time in retort equates to reduced carbon emissions.
A significant part of Scope 3 involves the transport of packaged goods to stops along the supply chain and ultimately to various retailers. As mentioned, retortable cartons are much lighter than cans—which reduces shipping weight. The lighter the shipment, the less energy required to move the product. But weight is just part of the carbon-emissions saving equation. Retortable cartons are also rectangular, allowing for tighter, more efficient packaging. This means more product per square foot, whether a truck, train car, or shipping container.
“As food manufacturers work to reduce their carbon footprints, they’ll be looking for savings all up and down the supply chain,” says Pawel Marciniak, President of IPM Foods. “Lighter, more efficient forms of packaging like Tetra Recart™ will play an important part in reducing energy use and cutting carbon emissions.”
As an exclusive Tetra Recart™ partner, IPM Foods is uniquely positioned to help food and beverage manufacturers reduce their carbon footprint through packaging innovation. To discuss a packaging audit or to learn more, contact an IPM Foods representative today.