How do Ethylene Absorbers Help In Food Preservation?

How do Ethylene Absorbers Help In Food Preservation?
Published On:April 27, 2018 Revised On:December 28, 2023

Ever wondered what causes fruits to turn bad despite packing them nicely in the carton? Or why do fruits spoil so much faster in Singapore than in other countries? Ethylene, also known as the ageing hormone, is a natural gas released by fruits to aid their ripening process. Despite its benefits, ethylene can cause ripening among fruits – warm climates and stacking fruits also encourage the release of ethylene gas, resulting in a shorter life span.

Discover the benefits of ethylene absorbers! This food packaging solution effectively minimises the amount of discarded food, ultimately reducing food waste.

Introduction to ethylene absorbers


Ethylene absorbers are a food packaging solution that effectively combats food waste. Their mechanism involves absorbing ethylene, the hormone responsible for the ripening of fruits and vegetables. By doing so, these absorbers can significantly prolong the shelf life of perishable items, extending it from mere days to several weeks or even months!

The advantages are evident: not only do they keep produce fresh for longer durations, but they also reduce food wastage. This translates into substantial cost savings for businesses in the food industry, as well as for consumers.

Here’s an intriguing fact: NASA originally developed ethylene absorbers for use in space missions. Today, they have found their application in various settings such as grocery stores, warehouses, and shipping containers. Companies offer both reusable and disposable options, making them an eco-friendly approach to curbing food waste.

How ethylene absorbers can help reduce food waste

Combat food waste effectively by incorporating ethylene absorbers, which are crucial in slowing down the ripening process and preventing the spoilage of fresh produce. The packaging solution removes ethylene gas from the environment, enabling fruits, vegetables, and flowers to remain fresh for extended periods. Let’s take a look at an example to understand their impact:

Type of Produce Without With
Apples 2-4 wks 4 mos
Bananas 2-7 days 3 wks
Broccoli 7-14 days 4 wks

The benefits of ethylene absorbers go beyond merely extending shelf life; they also contribute to cost reduction and minimising carbon footprint. Farmers can now harvest their crops at the optimal maturity stage, saving valuable resources such as water and energy typically expended during transportation and storage.

To illustrate the practical advantages, consider a US grocery chain that successfully curtailed air freight expenses by implementing ethylene absorbers in its shipping containers. These absorbers’ cost-effectiveness and remarkable efficiency make them an excellent choice for sustainable food management.

The benefits of using ethylene absorbers

The advantages of utilising ethylene absorbers include better food preservation and less waste, particularly in facilities storing large perishable items. Here are some of the benefits:

  • Longer shelf-life: Ethylene absorbers do away with ethylene gas, thus slowing down the ripening of fruits and veggies, giving them an extended shelf-life.
  • Prevents spoilage: Avoiding contamination and spoilage by eliminating spores with the help of ethylene absorbers is possible.
  • Maintain freshness: Freshness is maintained due to less dehydration as ethylene absorbers keep moisture content intact.
  • Sustainable alternative: Ethylene absorbers enable the industry to adopt green procedures through cost-effectiveness and lesser food waste generation.

Ethylene absorbers also help maintain packaging integrity since mould growth and softening of fruits or veggies are minimised. Store herbs and leafy produce in plastic bags to enhance ethical emissions management. Keep them refrigerated at temperatures below 40°F.

The drawbacks of using ethylene absorbers

While ethylene absorbers offer valuable benefits in reducing food waste, it’s essential to consider some drawbacks associated with their use. Cost is a factor to consider, as these bags require additional production expenses. Moreover, they need to be replaced regularly, which can be time-consuming.

It’s worth noting that ethylene absorbers are less effective in open areas and are typically not placed in open packaging. They work best when used in enclosed packaging solutions.

Furthermore, it’s essential to understand that ethylene absorbers do not address other factors contributing to food spoilage. Combining their usage with temperature control measures, proper storage techniques, and cold chain packaging solutions is recommended to maximise their effectiveness.

By implementing a comprehensive approach that includes ethylene absorbers alongside these other measures, you can optimise food waste reduction and enhance perishable items’ overall quality and longevity.

The different types of ethylene absorbers

Ethylene absorbers are a valuable solution in the battle against food waste, as they effectively slow down the ripening process of fruits and vegetables. So, how do they work? By removing ethylene gas from the surrounding environment, they prevent it from reaching and affecting production.

There are various types of ethylene absorbers available, each serving different purposes. For home use, ethylene packets are a convenient option. Filters offer the advantage of sea and road transportation. Sheets are suitable for larger quantities of produce, while ethylene machines are designed to meet the demands of commercial settings.

However, it’s important to note that not all types of food require ethylene absorbers. Interestingly, this concept was discovered centuries ago by the ancient Egyptians. They observed that keeping ripe figs with unripe ones could accelerate the ripening process. Subsequent scientific research explained this phenomenon.

By using the effectiveness of ethylene absorbers and understanding the unique ripening characteristics of different foods, we can effectively reduce food waste and optimise the freshness and quality of the produce.

How to use ethylene absorbers

Ethylene absorbers are an effective tool for reducing food waste, and here are some simple steps to use them effectively:

  1. Choose the right size: Select an ethylene absorber size that suits the volume of the storage container or room where you’ll be using it.
  2. Positioning: Place the absorber at the bottom of the container, ensuring there is some space between the absorber and the product. Position the absorber near an air circulation point in larger spaces to maximise effectiveness.
  3. Regular replacement: While ethylene absorbers have a long lifespan, they need to be replaced eventually. The timeframe for replacement varies, so make it a habit to check regularly and replace the absorber when necessary.
  4. Proper storage: Store unused ethylene absorbers in their original packaging in an excellent, dry location away from direct sunlight until you are ready to use them.

Remember, ethylene absorbers should complement proper storage techniques such as temperature control and ventilation rather than replacing them. However, when used in conjunction with these practices, they can significantly extend the shelf life of your product and minimise food waste.

Interestingly, NASA scientists have studied ethylene absorption for over a century. As early as 1984, they utilised this technology aboard space shuttles to maintain the freshness of crops during experiments conducted in space.

By following these guidelines, we can effectively utilise ethylene absorbers to reduce food waste and enhance the shelf life of our perishable items.

The best methods to store ethylene absorbers

Proper storage of ethylene absorbers is crucial for optimal performance and longevity. Here are some methods to ensure their effectiveness:

  1. Store away from heat sources: Keep the absorbers away from direct sunlight or heat-emitting appliances like radiators, as excessive heat can degrade their efficacy.
  2. Utilise airtight containers: Store the absorbers in zipper bags or jars to prevent exposure to air and moisture, which can compromise their functionality.
  3. Choose a dark place or opaque container: Light can also impact the absorbers, so store them in a dark place or use an opaque container that shields them from light exposure.
  4. Label the container: Clearly label the container containing the absorbers to avoid confusion and ensure easy identification when needed.
  5. Check the expiration date: Ethylene absorbers have an expiration date, so checking and replacing them before they lose their effectiveness regularly is essential.

When using ethylene absorbers in packaging or storage areas, it’s advisable to consult with our packaging engineers for guidance on the appropriate placement and replacement intervals. Factors such as weight, impact strength, tear/fold strength, and other specific considerations should be considered to ensure optimal performance.

By implementing these storage practices and considering the advice of experts, maintain the effectiveness of ethylene absorbers and reduce food waste effectively.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What are ethylene absorbers?

A: Ethylene absorbers reduce the amount of ethylene gas produced by fruits and vegetables to slow the ripening process.

Q: How do ethylene absorbers help reduce food waste?

A: Ethylene gas is a natural hormone that triggers ripening in fruits and vegetables, which eventually leads to spoilage. By reducing the amount of ethylene gas produced, ethylene absorbers help slow down the ripening process and prolong the shelf life of produce, reducing the amount of food waste.

Q: How to use ethylene absorbers?

A: Ethylene absorbers can be placed in containers, such as bags, boxes, or crates, along with the produce. The number of absorbers needed depends on the size of the container and the amount of produce. It is essential to follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer.

Q: How long do ethylene absorbers last?

A: The lifespan of ethylene absorbers depends on several factors, such as the amount of produce, the size of the container, and the type of absorber used. Typically, ethylene absorbers last for 30-90 days.

Q: Are ethylene absorbers safe?

A: Ethylene absorbers are generally considered safe and approved for food packaging use by regulatory agencies, such as the FDA and the EU. However, it is essential to use them as directed and keep them away from children and pets.

Q: Where can I buy ethylene absorbers?

A: Ethylene absorbers can be purchased online or in stores specialising in food packaging materials. Depending on the amount and type of stored produce, they are available in various sizes and types.

Watch this video to learn more about Ethylene Absorbers.