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Intelligent food packaging and shelf-life extension

Developing packaging solutions that actively monitor food. There are many new ideas to extend shelf life with active packaging, such as new surfaces or silk proteins.


Controlled atmosphere storage and modified atmosphere packaging

Creating optimal storage conditions by controlling or modifying the gas composition around food, "e.g. Microporus modified atmosphere".


Active packaging

Anti-microbial and anti-spoilage coatings for food packaging - Applying coatings to packaging materials to prevent microbial growth and food spoilage. One example is chitosan - essential oil coatings.


Reduction of plastic packaging

Plastic is an important and ubiquitous material but often the way it is used and discarded does not run along with the economic benefits of a circular and sustainable approach and it harms the environment. The EU has published a vision for a circular plastics economy. Regarding the food system responsible consumers ask for a reduction of packaging - not

only plastic - to avoid waste and environmental pollution, companies start rethinking packaging materials taking sustainability into account.


Biobased plastic packaging

Bioplastics are not just one single substance, they comprise a whole family of materials with differing properties and applications. According to European Bioplastics, a plastic material is defined as bioplastic if it is either bio-based (materials created using renewable biomass sources), bio-degradable, or features both properties. There has been an increasing trend towards replacing conventional fossil-based plastics with bioplastics.


Packaging and health

Advances in processing techniques, preservation, and packaging have enabled the food industry to consistently supply consumers with a wide array of healthy and fresh products all year round. Food packaging can contribute to preserving the quality and protecting food, ensuring convenience in distribution and handling.


Biodegradable and semi-biodegradable food packaging materials

Immediate disposal of conventional single use non-biodegradable food packaging results in adverse environmental impact. Utilisation of either biodegradable or semi-biodegradable materials is a common approach toward achieving better sustainability.



Edible packaging

Edible packaging can be eaten on the go, without a need for waste collection, processing, recycling, or disposal. However, these are weaker than plastic. For example, if the packaging is too water soluble it will not hold up in humid climates, or it would also break down faster if kept cold and then exposed to condensation effects once removed from the refrigerator.


Recycled (and upcycled) packaging

Current rates of recycling are low and landfills are full. Producing food packaging out of recycled/upcycled plastics may help ease some pressure in this regard.

Sources: Polymers:; Substances added:

Reusable food delivery packaging

The use of re-usable packaging, both primary (those with direct contact with foods) and secondary (e.g. carrier bags) could significantly reduce carbon emissions compared to the current situation.


Minimal Processing enabled by hurdle technology

Hurdle technology means combining various bacteria inhibiting or bacteria-killing factors (some of the 'hurdles,' e.g., are salt, reduced pH, reduced water activity, heat treatment, and appropriate packaging) to achieve safe products with acceptable shelf life and an acceptable taste and consistency.

Sources: for example fish:; example for tailor-made foods:

No packaging

Package-free stores and supermarkets are starting to be common in bigger cities. These contain refill stations and bag-less aisles. Even conventional supermarkets are starting to encourage shoppers to bring their own containers and to trial refill stations. The transition is, however, complex, involving changes in the supply chain, the stores and buyers' behaviours and skills. Despite the obvious environmental benefits of not producing packaging, the package-free movement must pay attention to the undesired increase in food waste due to the shorter shelf life of some foodstuffs.


Internet of Things (IoT) for cold chain management and storage

The Internet of Things (IoT) enables real-time monitoring. Using advanced smart sensors, data analytics, machine learning, and cloud connectivity in food storage, it can turn data into actionable insights about the condition of food. This continuous monitoring can ensure food is stored within the required temperature range and helps demonstrate it meets regulatory standards. Real-time monitoring, predictive analytics, and enhanced food safety measures. Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology could provide valuable real-time food-quality information in smart food packaging and is integrated as chipless technology. New technologies are also used to ensure proper temperature control throughout the supply chain to maintain food quality and safety. Attention must be paid as cold chains can help diseases such as COVID-19 to spread.

Sources: e.g. for cold storage management:; Cold chain management:; Improvements to prevent COVID-19 spread:; e.g. perishable inventory management:;

Factors affecting the sustainability of reusable packaging systems

Interest in reusable (e.g. retunable, refillable) packaging systems is growing due to the current waste management difficulties, particularly that of plastic waste. The environmental impact of packaging is huge. Reusable packaging systems can be significantly more sustainable than single-use alternatives, but a complex interplay of environmental, economic, social and technological factors affects their implementation and efficacy, and the switch from a single-use to a reusable packaging system isa food safety concern.