Fighting the 'trifecta' of food waste, packaging waste, and fraud would be the focus of a proposed research centre which already has the support of the Australian Institute of Packaging and RMIT University.
The proposed Fight Food Waste & Fraud Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) has gained the support of a large number of partners, with new packaging innovations among its top priorities in the fight against waste.
Dr Steven Lapidge is the bid leader in the Fight Food Waste & Fraud CRC, and told PKN bidding was “in the middle stage” whereby he was waiting to hear whether the CRC had been shortlisted as a potential business.
“We submitted an expression of interest in July this year, and we'll hear whether we've been shortlisted any day now,” he said.
“We've already got over 60 participants keen to do something about the 'trifecta' of food waste, packaging waste, and fraud, and it's just a waiting game.
“If we get the call we'll develop a full business code, and if all goes well [the CRC] will be in the picture by March next year.”
Research and evidence-based education will play a vital role in the implementation of improved food packaging, according to associate professor Karli Verghese, principal research fellow in industrial design at RMIT University, who has been working with the Australian Institute of Packaging (AIP) on more sustainable solutions for Australia.
“The most immediate need is to obtain clear and accurate mapping of where food waste occurs in the supply chain – and why,” Verghese said.
“There are so many opportunities to value-add rather than simply view food waste as compost.
“A broader understanding of what is required in food packaging improvements will provide positive change.”
Ensuring that all future food packaging incorporates Save Food Packaging design elements will make serious improvements in curbing food waste, according to Nerida Kelton, executive officer of the AIP.
AIP launched the Save Food Packaging awards two years ago, in conjunction with the World Packaging Organisation, to encourage improved food packaging that reduces food waste.
Australia is the first country to accept the WPO invitation to initiate this award, and Australian winners were showcased at the international Interpack trade exhibition in Germany in May.
“I think many countries were surprised by how advanced some of the Australian innovations are in Save Food Packaging design,” Kelton said.
“It shows that Australian food packaging technologists and designers are taking a lead in the world, and eyes are on us to see what's delivered next.”
The winning designs showed great advances in shelf-life and portion control solutions, and improved use-by-date information to help prevent wastage of packaged foods.
Now, the AIP wants to encourage industry support to ensure widespread implementation of such innovations.
“The CRC will help these innovations become embraced further in food industry production,” she said.
“It will make a huge difference if improved Save Food packaging design becomes standard criteria for all manufacturers.
“The CRC can provide a national platform that accelerates positive change. We can’t have a fragmented approach if we expect to see necessary improvements.”