MPMA flags up high-impact solution to global food wastage at The National Food Waste Conference

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The Metal Packaging Manufacturers Association’s (MPMA) Director and Chief Executive, Robert Fell, recently presented at The National Food Waste Conference at the Wellcome Collection, London highlighting how canned foods can reduce food waste and how its carbon savings can assist in accelerating our journey to a carbon neutral future.

The presentation – entitled ‘Carbon benefits of food waste prevention within the supply chain’ – flagged up some startling facts about food wastage, including the fact that about one third of food produced for human consumption – or 1.3 billion tonnes – is lost or wasted globally every year*.

In view of continued high population growth – which may reach 9.7 billion people by 2050​ (vs. 7.9 billion people today) – and the projected loss of up to 250 million crop acres by 2050, the issue of food wastage has never been more important.

Fortunately, as Robert explained, there is an effective solution that can help tackle the problem. Over one billion litres of food waste is already avoided globally thanks to the current usage of metal packaging so, he argued, if uptake of canned food and recycling levels both increase, the positive impact will be significant. An educational drive among all waste management stakeholders, including consumers, is a major part of the challenge.

Key messaging is two-fold. Firstly, the canning process locks in nutrients and vitamins of fresh ingredients at the height of their ripeness for use in months or years later. So canned food offers consumers the convenience of products that are healthier, more affordable, and have a longer shelf-life than other food formats. Moreover, they don’t require refrigeration in transport, in storage, at the retailer or at home.

Secondly, metal packaging is infinitely recyclable. It’s easy to extract from the waste stream, and all the metal collected is reused to make new metal products. Metal packaging has the highest recycling rate of any packaging format across Europe.

The main thrust of Robert’s presentation was that, in view of the above factors, canned foods could play an increasingly critical role in reducing food waste and  helping to alleviate the pressure on the natural world.

He commented:

“There’s a huge opportunity for canned food to make a significant environmental difference in terms of reducing food waste and lowering the losses of the carbon associated with food production as well as decreasing the emissions connected with food spoiling.

“Add in the ability for people to eat more healthily even within tight budget constraints, and it’s clear that everyone – consumers, local authorities, waste management companies, governments, businesses and the environment – will all benefit from increased usage of canned food.

“Many thanks to the event organisers for providing a great forum to discuss with other key stakeholders in the waste management space. Collectively, we have a responsibility and opportunity to drive real positive change here. I’m confident that together we can and will radically reduce food waste in every UK household.”


*Source: United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation