In this video series, The National Provisioner editor-in-chief Andy Hanacek discusses trends in the industry with Jorge Izquierdo of PMMI. This episode focuses on the trends in environmental sustainability of meat packaging and the challenge film packaging poses.

Andy Hanacek: We are going to talk a little bit about environmental sustainability. You know, those buzz words we’ve heard for decades but now the packaging world… they’ve done it over decades as well. It’s green, green, green. Let’s make everything green. I’m sure there’s a bevy of options here for this answer, but maybe pick one or two of the more innovative things you’ve seen in terms of meat and poultry packaging on the sustainability, recycling, environmental front.

Jorge Izquierdo: First of all, sustainability is good for the manufacturers but even more important for consumers. The amount of packaging we are using [and] the type of packaging we are using is very important, so one of the significant transitions we are finding is the move from trays to flexible packaging. Pretty much, when you cook a piece of meat, what’s left after you cook the meat is the packaging, and that’s very relevant for the consumers. Moving to flexible [packaging] allows to cut on the amount of packaging you are using. Plus, a second part of this answer is it’s linked to sustainability but not necessarily always by the consumers. It’s the spoilage. The waste of food products. When you have meat products packed in individual portions based on what you are going to consume, that allows you to use that portion and make sure the rest of the product is still fresh, so there’s no waste. There’s no worse way to trash packaging or a product. The sustainability impacts of that is huge. The most important thing we can do is to make sure the product we are consuming is still fresh and packaging is helping that area, and I think that’s important on the consumer side to look at the amount of packaging but also at the waste control in terms of the product.

Hanacek: That’s interesting, because we talk about portion control at least once, twice, three times a year in our magazine, because you’ve got the stereotypical Texas steakhouse that’s got the giant steak and how much of that are you really eating and throwing away. You go home, and same thing, you buy a large tray of meat and you might not use the whole thing, but if you get the smaller portion control pieces, it’s great from that standpoint, the food waste standpoint.

Izquierdo: That’s the direction pretty much. Those two aspects.

Hanacek: Let me ask in terms of films and things like that. I know, not being on one of the packaging magazines, maybe my understanding is a little less on this. One of the challenges with films is different layers, some are recyclable and some are not, right? The industry is rising to the challenge on that, right? At least from your perspective, you are seeing some of films be more recyclable.

Izquierdo: It’s a process, but to be honest, it’s a significant challenge. In terms of recycling film, currently what can be recycled or what’s being recycled is basic plastics, but when you talk about films with different layers, it’s much more complicated because it’s a mix of plastics and you would have to identify them and the recycling channels are not ready. We are moving in that direction, but it is going to take some time.

Keep an eye out and watch the rest of The National Provisioner’s video series on trends in the industry with Jorge Izquierdo of PMMI.