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Consumers, supermarkets, social organisations and governments are putting more and more pressure on companies to pack(age) in a sustainable way. Dutch supermarkets recently agreed that by 2025 there will be a 20 percent reduction in packaging material in the supermarket. The packaging must then also be 95 percent recyclable and paper and cardboard fully certified. With all that attention on sustainability and recycling, you almost forget that the packaging for food has other important purposes: contributing to the food safety of the product, for example, and extending the shelf life because the consumer doesn't want to shop for groceries every day. Protecting is also an essential purpose of the packaging.
My son tells us that he has to bring an egg to school, for an 'eggdrop challenge' in physics. The assignment: 'Take an egg to school and pack it in the classroom as such that you can drop it from a metre high without it breaking'. He and his partner wanted to pack it in a bag of popcorn. That would take care of the blow. "What a waste of popcorn", his sisters thought. They clearly did not have much confidence in the chosen solution. With a bag full of books on the back of the bike, there is another challenge ahead: "Mom, how do I get the egg to school without breaking it?". "Create a solution for yourself!", I encourage him. The solution is staring us right in the face: in an egg box of course. "What an ingenious design", he observes, when he (apparently) studies the design for the first time. The box goes into the school bag, but it's too full. In a small backpack on the back then, that immediately absorbs the shocks of pavements that are along the way and the many road twists and bends.
Inventive solutions for 'Todays food challenges' were also abundant among HAS Food Experience students: new business models, renewable packaging, protein-rich beer, protein-and fibre-rich chocolates for the elderly, delicious sustainable dry sausages, innovative algae snacks. The youth is the future! I thought, until I joined a group of evening students. Adult students who have already earned their way in food, motivated people who want to move forward and do not want to sit still, who have experienced the power of collaboration and sharing knowledge. In short: enthusiasm and curiosity are ageless. There is still so much to discover.
The school egg-challenge was a success. It's not exactly the 'egg of Columbus', this solution will never achieve the 20% reduction in packaging. A solid ten for originality. And a bag of popcorn without an egg, to share triumphantly at lunch.
Source: © Vakblad Voedingsindustrie 2019