Packaging: a key issue for responsible collective catering
Jointly find solutions to reduce the environmental foodprint of our packaging
The proliferation of packaging and the impact it has on the planet, especially with regard to the oceans, has become a major concern for many businesses and much of the general public. This is particularly the case for plastic packaging which is one of the most controversial issues. According to National Geographic, since 2015, more than 6.9 billion tons of plastic waste have been produced, of which about 9% recycled, 12% incinerated and 79% accumulated in landfills or in nature. Every stage of the packaging life cycle, from production to consumer-use to waste, affects our environment.
In addition, there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all solution that does not have an environmental impact. Glass, which is recognized as an alternative in certain flows, does not leave a neutral imprint. To resolve the underlying issues, we must envisage implementing a range of changes, in our behavior patterns as well as in the materials and processes used.
Social players must therefore be the driving force behind changes in practices. Companies not only have the means to actively participate in the transition of the packaging value chain, but may sometimes be able to go faster and further than the regulator.
Sustainable packaging, a responsibility and transformation issue for Elior
For Elior, the two-fold challenge of today’s meeting is therefore to enable it to widen its field of reflection concerning the issue of packaging and to identify new solutions. Elior is aiming to increase the share of responsible packaging and to be a pioneer in identifying solutions that preserve the ecosystem in which we live, while controlling costs. It is with this goal in mind that the Group decided to bring its stakeholders (suppliers, distributors, etc.) together with a team of Elior experts around the table, so that they could reflect on the following issues that are specific to collective catering:
- Raw material packaging
Food and non-food product packaging is an issue that concerns all Elior restaurants. The waste generated by this packaging, however, represents both an environmental and an economic cost. This is why Elior initiated these discussions with all of its stakeholders so that they can reflect on the best way to reduce the weight of discarded packaging and implement new uses, such as bulk packaging, and think about the end of the packaging life-cycle.
- Limit intermediate containers
The main challenge is eliminating single-use plastic containers. One solution could be delivering school meals directly from a central kitchen. This would require transforming certain processes, in particular how food is cooked, packaged and transported.
- Packaging for nomadic catering offers
The sanitary crisis has accelerated a trend in take-out dining. However, this generates waste associated with individual, single-use containers and bags. Elior's goal is to work with its suppliers to find alternatives to these disposable or plastic forms of packaging, to reflect on new uses, such as deposit boxes, and to improve sorting and recycling systems.
The objective of Elior’s stakeholder day is to bring together all the players in the Group’s ecosystem with a view to creating innovative, sustainable packing solutions that will be explored and tested.