On May 26, 2020, The Klosters Forum published an episode of its Feed and Flourish podcast featuring a discussion with the Food Packaging Forum’s Managing Director, Jane Muncke. This year the podcast is focusing on how our food system is a major driver of biodiversity loss and what steps can be taken to change that. Muncke explains that food packaging is necessary to protect and store food over a long period of time, but the problems food packaging pose today such as plastic pollution and the presence of hazardous chemicals are symptoms of the large, globalized food supply system society depends on. As all of these challenges, including biodiversity loss, are interconnected, and she believes that “people need to be much more aware of chemicals as an issue.” While most think “chemicals are boring and complicated,” Muncke illustrates that the increased awareness of plastic pollution has created strong visuals that have helped to also start more conversations about the chemicals present in single-use packaging. She stresses that we need to keep a holistic view when developing solutions and remember that changes in one issue such as packaging can have ripple effects that affect many other issues such as climate change, ocean pollution, and human and environmental exposure to chemicals.
The episode further discusses how consumers could improve their own behaviors to reduce their exposure to hazardous chemicals, including the value of simplifying lifestyles and purchasing habits, for example by shifting towards consumption of more local, less processed and packaged products. Remaining critical of information related to claims about recyclability and sustainability is also important as such systems can be much more complex or limited than advertising describes them to be. Paper packaging has also become an increasingly popular choice to replace plastic products, and Muncke explains that chemicals still need to be carefully considered there as well, especially when it comes to recycling wastepaper that contains non-food grade chemicals into food packaging.
The podcast series this year has interviewed twelve experts so far, with each approaching the issue of our food system from diverse perspectives and disciplines. All of the episodes are available to freely stream on the podcast’s webpage.
The Klosters Forum (May 26, 2020). “Feed and Flourish Podcast – Episode 11: Jane Muncke.”