How Air Liquide helps combat food waste

Being environmentally aware
Food & Pharma
|
7 October 2019

As many as 1.2 billion tonnes of food go to waste annually worldwide.
This is a painful thought from an ethical point of view, and economically too, as the cost of this wastage approaches EUR 825 billion a year. In this context, any development which helps combat food waste is very welcome.

“Food waste is definitely an important issue, and we focus considerable R&D effort on developing useful solutions,” says Andy Augustus, Market Manager Food & Pharma at Air Liquide. “And with some success. We’ve rolled out a lot of developments already. We actually don’t consider food waste to be an isolated problem, because there’s often a powerful connection between food waste, sustainability and CO2 emissions.”

Modified Atmosphere Packaging

“Suppose, for example, you encourage people to take reusable packaging with them when they go shopping. This already happens in some areas, but the problem is that the food then can’t be stored for long enough. Because of this, we’ve created a solution based on MAP gases.”

MAP stands for Modified Atmosphere Packaging. This involves specific compounds of natural gases that slow down the bacterial, enzymatic and physical deterioration of the food, preserving the original flavour and quality.

DIY MAP

“We are looking into how to put the necessary equipment in stores so that staff can add MAP gases to food in reusable packaging, allowing the food to be stored just as long as in traditional packaging. This prevents food waste and also encourages the use of reusable packaging, further reducing the amount of waste.”

“In Japan, we even have a solution on the market that allows consumers to add MAP gases to packaging at home, so that food can be stored for longer. This is particularly useful if food from an opened package isn’t consumed at one sitting. There’s a specific MAP cartridge for each type of food: meat, fish, vegetables, etc. It also comes with a device for airtight resealing of the packaging.”

Temperature control

A completely different way to reduce food waste is by improving the temperature control of the food. Food must be chilled during storage and never exceed a given temperature during transport, which is not as easy as it sounds.

First, the temperature in the lorry or van must stay below a certain maximum for the entire journey, from departure to the final point of delivery. This isn’t always easy, especially in the warmer summer months or where there are frequent stops, for example in cities and for multiple delivery points. This certainly applies to traditional cooling installations. Of course, if the food becomes too warm, it creates waste and can also be hazardous to public health.

Sustainable cooling

“The thing is,” Augustus explains, “traditional lorry or van cooling systems don’t offer quite enough capacity, especially not for last-mile deliveries, because the vehicles make frequent stops and the cooling capacity of traditional installations is dependent on the vehicle’s engine speed.”

“What you actually want is a solution that maintains the food’s temperature perfectly under all conditions, with minimal pollution - here we mean NOx and particulate matter - and the lowest possible CO2 emissions. The cooling systems currently employed in the transport sector are powered by the vehicle’s diesel engine. That’s not a great solution from a sustainability standpoint.”

Blueeze and Cryocity

Air Liquide is showcasing two new cooling systems: Blueeze and Cryocity. Blueeze works with liquid nitrogen (-196 °C) and is specifically designed for use in larger lorries. “This cooling system is particularly powerful and efficient, and operates completely independently of the vehicle’s engine,” confirms Augustus. “The food is therefore guaranteed to stay below the desired maximum temperature. And Blueeze doesn’t give off any pollutants or CO2. That even applies to production, because we liquefy the natural nitrogen gas using renewable energy.”

“As the name implies, the Cryocity cooling solution is designed for last-mile and urban transport. Cryocity shares Blueeze’s powerful cooling properties and other benefits, but it’s based on liquid CO2 (-96 °C). This CO2 is initially a waste product captured during the production of other gases, making Cryocity a Green Origin product with zero carbon footprint. The CO2 is subsequently converted into dry ice (-80 °C) and used as a coolant in this form. An additional benefit of both Blueeze and Cryocity is that they are almost silent in use, ideal for early-morning or late-night food deliveries in urban environments.”

Future developments

“Air Liquide has more projects to combat food waste in the pipeline. We’ll present and market these projects as soon as they are sufficiently developed.”

Contact us for more information with no obligation.

Searching for a way to increase the shelf life of food while at the same time reducing  the use of additives? Modified Atmosphere Packaging (MAP) may be your answer! Find out now and enjoy a free audit.

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