Packaging for organic products

The use of packaging

Plastic pollution is a big issue globally and we are often asked what we’re doing to reduce or improve the use of packaging for organic products.

Packaging is an important aspect of what makes a product truly organic. This is why we launched the world’s first packaging standards for organic products over 10 years ago. These encourage all organic companies certified by us to use the least amount of packaging possible and to use recycled or recyclable materials. They ensure that substances which have been shown to cause harm to human health or the environment are not used – for example we ban PVC, GM materials and phthalates.

Packaging is a difficult area because there are lots of different factors to balance. Some plastic packaging can play an important role in preserving food, which reduces food waste. At the same time, we know it’s easy to find many examples of over-packaged products.

As things stand, organic food in supermarkets has to be packaged to ensure it is not mixed with non-organic foods of the same variety. Until the organic sector becomes bigger than non-organic, this is unfortunately the best way to minimise the amount of packaging used overall.

What we're doing

We’re always working on ways to improve food packaging for organic products. This is a global issue so, along with international partners, we are looking for ways that the organic movement worldwide can act on packaging. Sharing best practice and practical information on better alternatives to plastic and other environmentally-friendly packaging can lead to rapid change in the industry.

We have also convened a specialist working group of leading packaging industry experts. They help advise us on these important issues and ensure we stay up to date with the latest innovations in recyclable and biodegradable materials so we can let our licensees know.

What can you do? 

Plastic pollution and overpackaging isn’t something we can solve alone, but we are doing our best to take action where possible. Alongside this, there are other approaches that need to be taken too, such as:

  • Standards setters like the Soil Association continuing to incentivise brands to do better, by offering standards and certification that adds value to products and reassures consumers
  • Brands being willing to innovate and make environmental impacts a key priority – happily several of our licensees are leading the way in this area
  • Consumers putting pressure on brands and retailers to consider the impact on the environment and wildlife in their decision-making for packaging

While organic standards do not ban all plastic packaging, and Soil Association standards prohibit plastics that are dangerous to health, if you are concerned about a product being over-packaged or not avoiding plastic packaging, why not contact the manufacturer today? Brands listen to their customers and your response will help encourage them to make a difference.