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. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Totally Brilliant Ways to Use Empty Food Cans and Containers

We are putting more and more packaging out into the world and spending even more trying to figure out ways to recycle it. Well, here are a few simple and practical ways to reduce your environmental footprint by reusing some of the empty containers you may normally throw out. 

1. Make “Bottom of the Mustard Bottle” Vinaigrette

Here’s is a great tip from cookbook author Dorie Greenspan: When there’s just a smidgen of mustard left in a jar, build your own vinaigrette in it.
To make hers, Greenspan adds a tablespoon of vinegar (you can use white wine vinegar, red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, anything you like), plus some salt and pepper. At that point, you could also add some chopped fresh herbs, minced garlic, and minced shallots, as Martha Stewart recommends. Close the jar and shake it up. Then add 3 times the amount of olive oil as the amount of vinegar you used. (So if you added 1 tablespoon of vinegar, add 3 tablespoons of oil.) Screw on the top of the jar and shake again. If necessary, add more oil and vinegar, salt and/or pepper little by little until you’re happy.

2. Use an empty yogurt container as a measuring cup.

This great tip comes from Real Simple: If you fill a standard 8-ounce yogurt container with flour or liquid, that’s about 1 cup. Fill a quart container and you’ve got about 4 cups. You can also use 4-ounce size for a 1/2-cup and a 6-ounce size for a 3/4-cup measure.

3. Make “Bottom of the Honey Jar” Lemonade…

When you have a bit of honey left in the bottom of the jar, make like New York Times food writer Melissa Clark and use it to make lemonade. Her instructions: Squeeze fresh lemon juice in, which helps break down that hardened leftover honey. Give it a good shake and refrigerate. When you’re ready to drink it, mix in a glass of water or club soda until it tastes right.

4. …or “Bottom of the Honey Jar” Simple Syrup.

...or "Bottom of the Honey Jar" Simple Syrup.
Olga Massov
Melissa Clark’s idea was inspired by this one from Sassy Radish blogger Olga Massov: Instead of squeezing in lemon juice, just add the same amount of hot water as there is leftover honey. Give the jar a shake and use it as simple syrup in cocktails.

5. Use an empty 20-ounce soda bottle to portion out single servings of spaghetti.

The opening of an empty 20-ounce soda or water bottle fits just enough uncooked spaghetti for a single serving. If you need four servings, just use the bottle to measure it four times.

6. Turn a bottle of whiskey into a soap dispenser.

Turn a bottle of whiskey into a soap dispenser.
A standard dispenser top will screw onto a 200-milliliter glass bottle of Jack.