|Appropriate Food Packaging (Tool)|
|5 Production, re-use and re-cycling of packaging|
Most small and medium-scale food manufacturers will purchase their packaging ready-made from a supplier. Such packaging will either be standard lines such as bottles, paper and films or special lines such as wooden boxes or pottery. This chapter describes the opportunities that exist for food processors to make their own packaging on site in cases where external sources may be difficult to find or too expensive. It ends with a brief discussion of environmental aspects of packaging and opportunities for re-use and re-cycling of packaging.
The manufacture of packaging that is bought readymade has been briefly described in the relevant sections of this publication. It must be remembered that ordering 'special' packaging from large suppliers will always be very expensive. However in many countries there are medium-sized companies that can make up packaging to order which may prove cheaper and more economic (because they are prepared to accept smaller orders) than importing standard packaging from the large suppliers. When looking for packaging supplies it is worth exploring local sources. Such medium-sized suppliers will mainly make:
- cardboard boxes, often printed,
- paper bags, often primed,
- plastic bags, often printed,
- pottery and ceramic containers,
- wooden crates, boxes, etc.
In some cases it is possible to produce packaging which is normally made at very large scale with scaled-down equipment. Examples include:
- the production of moulded paper pulp trays and egg boxes from
waste paper, which has been described in Chapter 3.1.6,
- the small-scale vacuum forming of shallow tubs, etc., from sheet plastic, as illustrated in Figure 3.23,
- the manufacture of tins for packaging of oils or powders at rates between 20 and 1000/hr depending on the equipment used, briefly mentioned in section 3.1.3, a small entrepreneur in Sri Lanka who developed a production system for approximately 5000 push-on type jam jar lids per day.
The application of such appropriate scale manufacturing could be of considerable benefit in some developing countries. Benefits would include increased availability of packaging for local industry, saving of foreign exchange by import substitution and job creation. Unfortunately information and access to these appropriate scale packaging material production systems is difficult. They are mainly produced by small companies who do not advertise their equipment widely. It would seem that there is a role for International Development Agencies, interested in assisting the small-scale food processing sector, to draw together information and experiences and disseminate such technologies.