From soft drinks to produce packaging to frozen food containers, plastic packaging pervades the food industry.

While plastic packaging has its share of upsides, there are a number of factors manufacturers should consider before deciding whether it makes sense to use plastics to sell their own products—or whether viable alternative solutions may work better.

To make the decision easier for manufacturers, the Institute of Food Science and Technology (IFST) recently released a document outlining the considerations they should keep in mind when making packaging determinations. Some of these include:

  • Manufacturers should consider the overall supply chain when making packaging decisions. There are primary (e.g., bottles), secondary (e.g., tray shrink wrap) and tertiary (e.g., pallet stretch wrap) considerations to be made.
  • The usage of coatings and laminates impacts whether materials can be recycled. Keep this in mind while designing packaging.
  • Removing excess packaging materials from any product can help manufacturers achieve cost savings by reducing shipping costs and packaging material expenses.

The IFST also outlined some benefits of packaging functionality, including:

  • Packaging protects foods and drinks against hazards (e.g., biological and chemical) and therefore plays an integral role in food safety.
  • Packaging enables manufacturers to include important information—like facts about nutrition, allergens and ingredients—on food and drink products. When designing packaging, manufacturers should select options that enable them to clearly present this information.
  • Packaging helps customers consume their food and drink easily. Plastics, for example, are often flexible. Manufacturers should look for similarly versatile materials when considering alternative packaging solutions.

For more considerations and benefits, download the full document from the IFST’s website.