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Food packaging is essential for several reasons including hygiene, minimizing food waste, and easy distribution. However, this form of preservation produces huge amounts of waste every year which translates into pollution. Most packaging materials including plastic, tin, and glass take hundreds of years to decompose if disposed of correctly (if thrown in the trash), if not there is a very high chance that they will end up polluting seas and rivers.  This is why packaging (which is often composed of one or more of these materials) can cause serious threats to the environment.

Let’s take a look at the most common materials found in food packaging and the most environmentally friendly ways to dispose of them.

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As shown in the table above, paper and cardboard are the most eco-friendly materials in terms of degradability, while plastic represents the most destructive element due to its extreme durability in time and the non-renewable sources from which it is produced.

Hereunder is a list of simple but relevant actions we can start taking right now as individuals to prevent further pollution of our planet:

– Try to use less packaging (packaging multiple foods together can be a good start)
– Try to avoid plastic in all forms. Plastic is a petroleum-based material that derives from finite supplies of fossil fuels. Furthermore, most of these products take centuries to decompose
– Mind the correct disposal of bioplastics (dangerous if they do not enter the right waste stream, getting mixed with regular plastics)
– Consider using biodegradable, compostable, and recyclable materials.
– Keep it simple. Avoid packaging made from multiple materials.

The best possible action we could take that would allow us to completely rid ourselves of this huge issue would be to not use packaging at all.  The second, more plausible option would be to use more eco-friendly packaging and take good care of how we dispose of it, easing the process of recycling.

How do we, as Xnext®, stand against packaging pollution? With XSpectra®, our cutting-edge inspection technology, we are able to distinguish and separate mixed material flows (e.g. different types of polypropylene or polyethylene in the broader polyolefin category), something which other current technologies are not able to do. In addition, current technology has major limitations when dealing with black or heavy colored/filled plastics or very small pieces of such elements, which is a problem that does not concern XSpectra®Xnext® can thus make a crucial contribution to the transition of the earth into a greener planet through its application in the recycling industry, by making the process of material characterization much easier to perform and more effective at the same time.