04 Sep 18 Solving banana waste #1: low-tech option
A Korean grocery store E-Mart has presented a clever packaging concept designed to reduce the number of bananas which are wasted by consumers after purchase.
In light of recent findings from the Joint Research Centre (JRC) which revealed that EU households generate roughly 35kg of fresh fruit and vegetable waste per person, per year, “lifestyle hacks” to prevent avoidable waste are high in demand.
E-Mart has begun selling packed bundles of bananas which vary in their level of ripeness. The idea is that the consumer will have a banana of optimal ripeness ready every day – hopefully decreasing the instances that over-ripened bananas end up in the trash.
The bananas in the pack go from green and unripe to perfectly ripe and ready to eat.
In terms of food waste, this attempt may well decrease the number of wasted bananas. However, some commentators have suggested that this design is an unnecessary use of packaging at a time when the global community is struggling to find a sustainable solution to the scourge of plastic pollution.
Critics of this packaging have highlighted the fact that over-ripened bananas can be used in cooking curries, pancakes and other recipes, while some argue that banana skins already provide a natural packaging and plastic wrapping only allows shoppers to think less about their buying and consumption habits.
Tackling food waste
The UN’s FAO estimates that about one-third of the food produced globally for human consumption is lost or wasted.
The recent study by the JRC highlighted that of the 35kg per person of fruit and vegetable waste in the EU, 14kg of this could be avoided.
The study found that the avoidable waste could be reduced by applying targeted prevention strategies and that the unavoidable waste (inedible parts of the product) could be much more sustainably managed at the manufacturing stage and recycled for use in the circular economy.
Of course, a vital role of food packaging is to combat food waste by extending shelf-life by preserving the processing benefits of food and protecting the product from external influences and damage.
In this way, the food packaging industry already plays a role in the reduction of food waste, but it is refreshing to see it engaging in the issue and supplying innovative solutions.