World Food Day 2017: how better packaging is helping fight hunger, worldwide

As we mark World Food Day 2017, Amcor is using its packaging expertise to help the World Food Programme (WFP) reduce food loss and deliver more food to people who need it most.

16 October, 2017
Amcor’s partnership with WFP began in 2015 and has already improved the lives of people in great need. Better-quality packaging of highly nutritious food for children has reduced packaging waste and saved WFP almost $3.2 million – money which is being used to provide vital nutrition to an additional 64,200 children in one year.

Today, Amcor people continue to improve the packaging of several WFP foods, including the most commonly distributed item: vegetable oil.

Vital vegetable oil

In 2016, WFP distributed nearly 200,000 tons of vegetable oil to beneficiaries, including to people in refugee camps in Kenya, Lebanon, and Yemen. 

Today, oil is packaged in high-density polyethylene (HDPE) jerricans, bottles, or metal cans, and is transported along challenging supply chains.  The journey over bumpy roads and in extreme temperatures can cause the jerricans to fail and leak, sometimes leading to the loss of oil inside.
To be of value to the people who need it, the oil not only needs to make it to distribution points successfully, but also retain its nutritional qualities. Better packaging can make sure this happens.

In Amcor’s Rigid Plastics laboratories, experts are testing the packaging WFP uses today – and designing improved packaging for the future. Dennis Kittel, Principal Engineer in Amcor’s Rigid Plastics business, has been testing samples of failed jerricans. 

“Working with WFP packaging is a special challenge for our technical centre,” says Dennis. 

“The supply journey can lead to breakage, failure and loss of valuable supplements.  At our Manchester site, we are measuring the current state of packaging and verifying that the containers meet intended specifications.  It is a thrill to be involved with this partnership, where we can apply our analytical and personal experience for such a worthwhile cause.”  
World Food Day and Rigid Packaging
At Amcor’s Technical Center in Manchester, Michigan, a lab technician uses a Magna-Mike gauge to measure bottle wall thickness to determine the container’s material distribution.

Frontline experience improves packaging

Amcor’s work to improve food packaging has been informed by the experience of Laurie Goetz, director of technical services in Amcor Rigid Plastics. While on a mission with WFP in July 2017, Laurie saw how food was transported and distributed at a refugee camp in Kenya. 

“Today, beneficiaries reuse aluminum cans for roofing tiles and plastic jerricans to carry water,” says Laurie. “We want to make sure the packaging has benefit beyond its primary purpose, which is to carry the oil to distribution points while protecting its nutritional qualities.”

A commitment to sustainability, worldwide

Amcor’s partnership with WFP is one of three global sustainability partnerships. The company’s also providing resources and expertise to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s New Plastics Economy initiative to increase the recovery and recycling of plastic packaging. Amcor also has a longstanding partnership with the Ocean Conservancy to reduce plastic packaging from entering oceans. 

On 16 October each year, World Food Day promotes awareness and action for those who suffer from hunger and for the need to ensure food security and nutritious diets for all. Find out more: 

Learn more about Amcor’s sustainability commitments and achievements: 

David Clark
Vice President Safety Environment & Sustainability