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Manufactured Packaging Materials for Food and Personal Care Products

One of the longest ongoing observation studies was the garbage project at the University of Arizona in Tucson. It began in 1973 and continued until the recent retirement of its founder Dr. William Rathje. If you manufactured packaging materials for food and personal care products, how might you use what the researchers have learned?

Introduction

William Rathje, professor of anthropology, and fellow archeologists at the University of Arizona founded the Garbage Project in 1973, soon after the first Earth Day (Cengage, 2020). Under the Environmental Protection Act, waste is any item that comprises discarded material, and effluent, an unused excess, an object needing disposal as bent, damaged, polluted or otherwise ruined. The goal was to extend the methods and resources of their research to the study of contemporary society by examining its trash. It was found in the research that the largest proportion of landfill garbage is paper, which accounted for 40% of the proportion which was followed by debris from the construction and demolition work (Rathje & Murphy, 2001). The study concluded that newspapers constituted about 13% of the total volume of the trash. It was also concluded that paper was bad-degrader and did not degrade were rather readable and reusable even after 50 years of being dumped in the landfills.

Implication of The Learnings on The Packaging Industry

The packaging industry has drastically changed in the last few years. It has become more reliable and protective. The food packaging material provides safety and longer shelf life to the food materials in the packet. However, the garbage project illustrated that the plastic and paper were the most non-degradable products which were polluting the environment. And the increasing waste produced in the food packaging is the main problem facing the world today (Kumar et al., 2016). Given the urbanization activities, Plastic Waste Management has taken on considerable importance. Plastic waste generated by manufacturers of polymers during production, extrusion, quality control and laboratory testing, etc., stages, as well as by consumers, requires urgent disposal and recycling to avoid health risks. Packaging accounts for about 65 per cent of the waste created in the household.

Recommendations

The packaging industry is recommended to reduce the amount or the toxicity of the waste generated in the packaging of the food items and personal care products (Marsh & Bugusu, 2007). Some recommendations are suggested for the packaging industry are: to use lightweight thinner materials for packaging food, using reusable and refillable containers so that after the filled item is completely used, the packaging container can be reused for some other thing or can be refilled to be used again. For example, glass containers for jams and sauces can be reused again for keeping non-food items, thus reducing the waste generation. Further, using recyclable packaging products would reduce the waste generated by the household.

Conclusions

The garbage project started by William Rathje was aimed at understanding the modern garbage generated specifically by the households, for understanding the environmental impacts of those waste. It can be concluded from the above discussion that waste produced from the packaging material used food and other products is not safe for the environment as the materials used in the packaging of food or other products such as personal care products are non-degradable such as glass, plastic, paper, and so on. Thus, the products should be packaged in such a manner that the packaging materials are either lightweight, recyclable, or reusable. This would reduce the waste generated from household tremendously.

References

Cengage. (2020). Garbage Project. Retrieved from https://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/garbage-project.

Kumar, G. M., Irshad, A., Raghunath, B. V., & Rajarajan, G. (2016). Waste management in food packaging industry. In Integrated waste management in India (pp. 265-277). Cham: Springer.

Marsh, K., & Bugusu, B. (2007). Food packaging—roles, materials, and environmental issues. Journal of Food Science, 72(3), R39-R55.

Rathje, W. L., & Murphy, C. (2001). Rubbish!: The archaeology of garbage. United States: University of Arizona Press.

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