With modern preservation methods, the air in the packaging can be replaced with gases.

In Britain, the triangular sandwich is a classic form of lunch. Customers want to see what the sandwich looks like in the shop, and the packaging must meet food hygiene standards. For many years, sandwiches have been presented in plastic packaging. But this is now about to change.

Marks & Spencer, in partnership with Sheffield Hallam University and the printers Nampack, has developed recyclable sandwich packaging. The packaging is based on a renewable material, and has won environmental awards. It has been well received by customers. The window is made from transparent corn starch, and the packaging actually works better than the old plastic packaging, since the clever design means that it turns into a tray when opened. The cardboard for the packaging is made at Iggesund Paperboard’s mill in Workington in the UK. Business area Iggesund Paperboard is part of the forestry industry group, Holmen AB.

Modern preservation methods

Marks & Spencer säljer mackor i återvinningsbara förpackningar.

Marks & Spencers sell sandwiches in renewable containers.

Suitable packaging is normally not enough to preserve food for a long period of time. Today, we usually rely on refrigeration to keep food fresh. This works well from the point of view of keeping properties and food hygiene, but freezing consumes energy throughout the chain, from the food processing plant to your domestic freezer. With modern preservation methods, the air in the packaging can be replaced by gases. Foods such as meat, sausages and prepared foods are packaged in a modified atmosphere. This means that the air in the packaging is replaced by a blend of nitrogen gas, carbon dioxide and, in some cases, oxygen. The gases create an environment where the food stays fresh longer, and can simply be refrigerated rather than frozen. Destructive micro-organisms develop slowly and the shelf-life is extended.

This article was first published in Advantage Environment printed in February 2008