Interview Enhancing ESG through innovative food packaging solutions

Brian Hawkins of Fortis Solutions Group discusses how sustainable packaging preserves food and meets ESG goals, highlighting future industry trends. By Mohamed Dabo.

Selecting sustainable packaging materials is key to cutting waste and emissions, supporting ESG goals. Credit: Black Salmon via Shutterstock

The conversation around sustainability in the food and beverage industry is becoming increasingly sophisticated, particularly when considering the complex roles of packaging in both preserving food and protecting the environment.  

In a revealing interview with Brian Hawkins, Product Manager at Fortis Solutions Group, insights were shared on how brands can navigate these intricacies. 

Balancing material use and product longevity 

Brian Hawkins highlights a fundamental dilemma faced by food brands today:  

"When a brand is considering product packaging, the critical consideration is protecting the contents, as the environmental impact of wasted products greatly outweighs the effect of the packaging materials."  

He emphasizes the importance of material properties that ensure packaging not only preserves the food but also withstands the rigours of supply chains without compromising safety.  

"Packaging must protect the product from damage, spoilage, or contamination," Hawkins asserts, noting that consumer preferences lean strongly towards flexible packaging which offers enhanced freshness and easier storage. 

Educational efforts and industry advocacy 

The role of education in promoting sustainable packaging practices is critical. The Flexible Packaging Association, a key industry body, is actively involved in disseminating information about the benefits of flexible packaging.  

Hawkins explains, "Flexible packaging requires less energy to manufacture and transport, extends the shelf life of products, reduces waste, and causes less food waste to be sent to landfills."  

These aspects are crucial in reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the industry. Hawkins elaborates on the logistical advantages of flexible packaging,  

"Shipping an equivalent number of pouches requires a single truckload, while rigid containers require 24X that, so transport has less environmental impact." 

Future Trends and ESG Performance 

Looking towards the future, Hawkins is optimistic about the ongoing innovations in packaging technology. "It’s clear that the shelf life that packaging provides is an important deterrent to food waste," he states.  

The focus remains on developing materials with superior barrier properties that also incorporate sustainable features.  

"Continued research and development of materials while incorporating sustainable aspects will remain a focus for food and beverage brands," Hawkins points out, emphasizing the need for effective communication about the foundational role of packaging in reducing carbon footprints. 

Towards a sustainable future in food packaging 

Brian Hawkins' insights underscore a significant theme in the sustainability debates within the food and beverage sector: the essential balance between using resource-intensive materials and achieving effective food preservation.  

As the industry moves forward, the integration of ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) principles in packaging strategies will be crucial for achieving broader sustainability goals, particularly in reducing food waste and mitigating environmental impacts.