New Report Highlights Environmental and Health Impacts of Single-Use Food Packaging

by Jerusha Klemperer


Single-use food packaging is taking a huge toll on our environment while also causing a variety of health problems. As our landfills and waterways clog with plastic bags, Styrofoam food containers, disposable coffee cups and more, it’s clear that what once seemed like an unimaginably wonderful convenience has become something else: a massive, eternal pile of garbage left not just in our ocean waters and landfills but, as it turns out, inside of our very bodies.

Companies and communities are starting to wake up — whether motivated by true concern or by the realization that their customers are fed up with unnecessary waste. A major beer company just announced it will be selling six-packs held together with cardboard instead of plastic. A beloved supermarket chain has committed to changing the way they package their fresh produce. Cities and states are banning plastic bags, plastic straws and Styrofoam takeout containers. Everyone is starting to get it: plastic never goes away.

Dig into Food Packaging

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Food Packaging Is Bad for our Health

But here’s something less widely understood: food packaging is also bad for our health. Additives like phthalates, that give plastic peanut butter jars their pliability, or perfluorinated chemicals (PFAS, also known as “forever chemicals”) that allow “fast-casual” restaurant cardboard bowls to hold liquids, are now understood to cause a host of health problems — but they are still being used in packaging. Chemicals like BPA have been phased out of most products, but we now realize their replacements are equally harmful.

FoodPrint’s latest report, The FoodPrint of Food Packaging, takes a deep dive into these twin issues: how food packaging is bad for both the planet and human health. It explores how companies can do better by innovating better packaging that is made with safer materials that can be reused and recycled and shares examples of ones who are already making positive strides. It also gives practical guidance for changes we can make in our purchasing habits and ways to educate ourselves about the recycling process.


Take Action

We are pairing the release of this report with a pledge: to say no to single-use plastic in food and beverage packaging. While it might not be possible to eliminate personal use entirely, there are simple swaps you can make — including, in some cases just declaring a polite ”no thanks!”

We invite you to read the report, to take the pledge and to be a part of a future of food packaging that is better for people and better for the planet.

Take the Plastic-free Pledge

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