Giving food waste the bump

The ability of the packaging industry to innovate never ceases to amaze. So it’s congratulations to Solveiga Pakstaite from Brunel University whose Bump Mark has won the UK leg of James Dyson’s annual engineering awards.

The Daily Telegraph reported the news that the label, designed by 22-year-old Solveiga Pakstaite, was the winner. Her invention aims to solve the problem of inaccurate sell-by, best-before, and use-before dates. The technology can be applied to standard food packaging, and allows consumers to monitor the freshness of their food.

When the food inside the packaging is fresh, the label is smooth to the touch. As the food begins to deteriorate, bumps appear, and it is time to throw the food away. This is a significant improvement on the current printed best-before and sell-by dates, which can only give a rough estimate of the lifespan of food.

“The Bump Mark copies what the food in the package is doing,” explains Pakstaite. “So the expiry information is going to be far more accurate than a printed date.”

Michael Bennett, Pelican’s MD commented: “This is another fantastic example of the way packaging innovation is being used to reduce food waste. Far from being the problem, good packaging is the answer to a number of the challenges we face in feeding our growing population and reducing climate change.”

The average UK family wastes £700 a year by throwing away food that could be eaten safely. More than half of food waste from households in the UK is still fresh, despite passing its use-by date.

According to the latest food report from the United Nations, 7 million tonnes of food is wasted in this country each year. Pakstaite’s food label is filled with gelatine, which exists in a jelly-like state when fresh but becomes a liquid as it expires, creating a lump effect.

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