Packaging is critical, especially when it comes to delivering food safely and efficiently. In the city of the future, packaging could well play an even more important role in helping urban areas make more efficient use of resources. After all, the world can no longer afford for one third of all of the food we produce to be lost or wasted en route from the field to the consumer, as is the case today.
In one example, additives approved for contact with food can be used in packaging films to help lettuce stay fresh longer, making them an important tool for preventing food waste. Anti-fogging additives from Evonik, such as TEGO® STS or Accurel AF, lower the surface tension of food packaging films. As a result, the drops of water that form on the inside of the package remain small and, as such, evaporate more easily. This phenomenon prevents the formation of condensation, which can cause food to rot more quickly.
Many foods today are already packaged in a protective atmosphere to keep the oxygen content low. Evonik has now developed a polymer-based oxygen absorber that can be incorporated directly into the packaging material to capture residual oxygen. Sold as VISPARENT®, this additive has recently been approved for food contact by the US Food and Drug Administration.
Sometimes moving toward greater sustainability is not about what you add, but about what you leave out. Take labels, for example: labels are necessary, because they provide information such as the best-by date and nutritional data. The liner is another story, however. The adhesive coating on linerless labels is applied to the back of the label itself, and the release coating—an Evonik product made of UV-curing silicones such as TEGO® RC 722—is applied to the front face of the printed label, where it is invisible. As a result, these labels can be rolled up like tape without sticking to each other, making label manufacturing much more environmentally friendly. Welcome side-effects include eliminating the cost of liner disposal and reducing transport costs, as more labels can fit on a single role.