On July 13, 2020, non-governmental organization Zero Waste Norway published an episode of the Zero Waste Nation podcast discussing the COVID-19 pandemic and food packaging. The episode featured an interview with the Food Packaging Forum’s managing director and chief scientist, Jane Muncke, on the topic. It discusses the viability of the virus on surfaces and the increasing mixed messages surrounding the safety of re-useable food packaging. Muncke described the fear and stress people are feeling as likely influencers of the current discussion about single-use items. Disposable items seem to provide some sense of control over the situation and sense of protection from the virus.

Based on the current scientific understanding of the virus’ transmission, Muncke emphasized that, when it comes to food containers, “for a business operator that wants to play it safe, there is no reason to ban refillable containers.” “It’s important to be sanitary, to wipe off surfaces in case they could have been contaminated with the virus,” she commented, “but the main part of infection is through droplets that you breathe and [which] directly come from people.” Based on this knowledge, systems can be put in place to ensure that re-useable food packaging is properly cleaned and sanitized just as all other surfaces and food service equipment are.

More information related to the COVID-19 pandemic and packaging is available on the Food Packaging Forum’s resources page.

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Zero Waste Nation (July 17, 2020). “The Pandemic and Food Packaging.”