Celebrating 50 years of Quality Food Packaging

5 Surprising Myths & Facts Behind Food Packaging

By Ciara Williams
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reusable and recyclable ProView Container container

The food packaging industry has evolved over the years, in efforts to keep the balance between convenience & sustainability. We’ve come to a place in our industry where a lot of information that is disseminated has resulted in a countless number of questions raised and factual information being compromised. This pool of scattered information finally lines up in a list of 7 myths & facts behind food packaging, thanks to the latest report from Foodservice Packaging Institute. With plastics, composting, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, and everything under the sea – all the answers to your most anticipated questions can be found here.

Myth: “Food packaging is overrunning our landfills because of high usage and its inability to break down.”

According to the EPA, plastics (that’s all plastics) account for only 12.8% of all MSW. When you break it down even further to foodservice foamed polystyrene, it accounts for less than 1% by weight of all materials in landfills.

Myth: “Foam cups and containers can’t be recycled.”

Polystyrene, which carries the #6 recycling icon plastic identification symbol is a type of material we use to produce a host of products including Foam Hinged Dinner and Snack Containers along with several varieties of Plates & Bowls. This versatile material can come in a foamed or a solid format. Polystyrene can, and is being recycled at many locations throughout the United States.

Myth: “Compostable foodservice packaging doesn’t actually compost— or there’s no place to compost it.”

Compostable refers to a natural process where organic waste materials decompose into a substance called compost. This substance is full of rich nutrients that can be used as soil conditioner. The process involves closely controlled heat, moisture levels, and carbon dioxide which accelerates the composting process. Genpak’s compostable material is known as bagasse. It is a renewable, fast-growing resource that breaks down the best in professionally managed compost facilities. All of our Harvest Fiber items are compostable. Please keep in mind that these compostable claims only apply to professionally managed composting facilities and not your backyard compost pile. To find a composter near you, just visit findacomposter.com. If you happen to throw an item that is sold as compostable into your backyard compost bin, it may take a very long time for the composting process to occur. A professionally managed facility very closely controls the heat and moisture level of the material which aids and accelerates the process.

Myth: “Chemicals can leach out of foodservice packaging and into the food or beverage being consumed.”

According to FPI, “It’s true that chemicals used in foodservice packaging may migrate into the foods or beverages. That’s why organizations like the U.S. Food and
Drug Administration and Health Canada review any chemicals that could possibly come in contact with foods” Our products are used in situations where hygiene is of the utmost importance such as in the food services. They also meet very stringent FDA standards for use in food contact applications.

Myth: “Styrene, found in foam polystyrene cups and containers, causes cancer.”

Styrene is a naturally occurring substance which is present in many foods such as wheat, beef, strawberries, peanuts, coffee beans and cinnamon.

The Green Room is Genpak’s #1 information source for issues, concerns and steps we have taken and are currently taking to continue to be responsible stewards of the environment. For more information on our products, click here.

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