Friday, August 16, 2013

Reducing Waste from Fast Food Packaging

At PAE we are always looking out for new ideas about how we can positively influence change in our markets to reduce waste from necessary packaging materials. We have assisted clients to light weight their bottles, use thinner films, and even introduced tie ups with recycling plants to purchase their waste materials. Where feasible and practical we have even installed recycling facilities. Statistics show that more than 50% of waste from packaging materials is generated from plastic, paper, and board. About 20% of this can be attributed to food and beverage packaging alone. As we do our small part, we still depend on the larger multinational companies to make changes which really make a difference.


American fast food chains have recently made big moves in Africa. For example KFC opening branches in Ghana, Nigeria, Zambia, Kenya, Angola among others. The other giants will soon follow bringing with them tons of waste generated from disposable packaging. The map below indicates locations of KFC restaurants worldwide.



Africa is has a fast growing economy and a hungry market for modern products which the multinationals are eager to capitalize upon. But at what cost? Local packaging manufacturers are eager to scoop up orders for this new increased demand in the market but there are no recycling facilities in place to deal with the influx of waste materials. Locals are substituting natural foods for processed meats at lower cost that are conveniently suited for the urban business environment. The fast food giants continue to use polystyrene and plastic packaging while there are other options for food containers made from local natural raw materials. Machinery is available to make environmentally friendly food packaging but manufactures would only make the change if urged by these mass consumers. While it may be too late to influence drastic changes in manufacturing through out industrialized nations, it would be possible for Africa to control its growth and development by pushing industrialists to invest in the right directions. 

This approach may be viewed as idealistic but it is with that attitude and hope in mind that designers like Ian Gilley conceive new concepts for packaging to reduce our overall waste. His vision  may never get the attention it deserves but we applaud his efforts and others like him who continue to envision ways for us to improve our environmental foot print.  



View all pictures here.