How to detect greenwashing in the food packaging industry?

I. Introduction

In an increasingly environmentally conscious and responsible consumption context, companies are increasingly highlighting their ecological commitment, especially in the food packaging sector. Unfortunately, some of them use “greenwashing” practices to deceive consumers and portray themselves as more eco-friendly than they actually are.
In this article, we will give you the keys to detect greenwashing in the food packaging sector. We will start by explaining what greenwashing is and why it is important to know how to detect it. We will then look at the different forms that greenwashing can take in the food packaging sector, before giving you concrete tips for detecting it.
As a responsible consumer, it is essential to know how to recognize greenwashing practices to avoid falling into the trap of misleading eco-responsible image. So, follow us in this article to learn more!
Feuille Blanche avec écrit greenwashing en noir sur fond vert et un brin d'herbe à côté

II. What is greenwashing?

Greenwashing is a practice that involves falsely claiming that a company’s products or services are environmentally friendly when in reality, they are not. This marketing technique is often used to respond to the growing demand from consumers for ecological and sustainable products, without having to change the company’s practices.

There are numerous examples of greenwashing in the food packaging industry. For example, plastic packaging that is advertised as recyclable, when in reality, they are not actually recycled, or paper packaging that is bleached with chlorine and contains polluting inks.

Greenwashing can have serious consequences for society and the environment. This practice deceives consumers who buy a product thinking it is more environmentally friendly than it actually is. Additionally, it harms companies that genuinely engage in sustainable development by making them lose credibility with consumers. Finally, greenwashing encourages companies not to actually improve their environmental practices, which can have harmful consequences for the environment in the long term.

Clavier d'ordinateur avec une touche colorié en verte où il est écrit greenwashing en blanc, feutres verts à côté

III. The pitfalls of greenwashing in the food packaging sector

Nowadays, many companies in the food sector claim to have adopted eco-responsible practices to address consumers’ environmental concerns. However, behind these statements often lies a reality that is less green than it seems. Here are some of the most common pitfalls of greenwashing in the food packaging sector:

Recyclability is not always proven

Many food packaging materials claim to be recyclable, but in practice, they are not always accepted by sorting centers and end up being incinerated or put in landfills. Some materials, such as multilayer packaging or flexible pouches, are particularly difficult to recycle and can even contaminate recycling streams.

Uncertainty around compostability

Many food packaging materials bear the “compostable” label, but in reality, this does not necessarily mean they can be composted at home or in municipal composting facilities. Some materials require specific temperature and humidity conditions to decompose, and are therefore only compostable in specialized industrial facilities.

Biosourced does not mean disposable in nature !

Biosourced food packaging, made from plant-based raw materials, is often presented as an ecological alternative to traditional plastics. However, they are not necessarily biodegradable and can take years to decompose if left in nature.
These greenwashing pitfalls can have serious consequences for society and the environment. Indeed, they can lead to overconsumption of non-renewable raw materials, an increase in non-recyclable waste, and increased pollution of soils and oceans. It is therefore essential for consumers to know how to spot greenwashing and choose truly sustainable food packaging.
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IV. Proposed solutions for truly eco-friendly food packaging

Faced with the pitfalls of greenwashing in the food packaging industry, it is important to know the existing alternatives to choose truly eco-friendly packaging. Here are some solutions :
  • Food packaging laminated with cornstarch : These packages have a protective cornstarch barrier, which gives them good resistance to moisture and good food preservation. They are biodegradable and compostable in about 180 days.
  • Water-based lamination : This is an alternative to plastic lamination, which uses water as a solvent. The resulting packages are recyclable and compostable, with no emission of toxic gases during disposal.
  • Different types of composting : There are several types of composting, suitable for different types of packaging. Industrial composting is reserved for large volumes of packaging, while home composting is an option for individuals. It is important to check that the packages you want to compost are labeled as compostable.

By choosing eco-friendly food packaging, we contribute to limiting our impact on the environment and preserving natural resources.

Homme avec un sac en papier kraft sur la tête sur fond vert

V. Conclusion

In conclusion, it is crucial to be able to detect greenwashing in the food packaging industry. Indeed, the consequences of greenwashing are harmful to society and the environment. Consumers have an important role to play by being vigilant against misleading marketing practices. It is also essential for companies to take responsibility by offering truly eco-friendly food packaging.
There are solutions for more environmentally friendly food packaging, such as packaging with corn starch lamination, aqueous lamination or different types of composting. However, it is important to note that these solutions are not yet widely available on the market, so it is crucial to continue pushing companies to adopt more responsible practices.
Ultimately, information is key to avoiding greenwashing in the food packaging industry. It is therefore crucial that companies and consumers take responsibility for a more environmentally friendly future.