Non-biodegradability and disposal problems are the major challenges associated with synthetic plastic packaging. This review article discusses a new generation of biodegradable active and smart packaging based on porous nanomaterials (PNMs), which maintains the quality and freshness of food products while meeting biodegradability requirements. PNMs have recently gained significant attention in the field of food packaging due to their large surface area, peculiar structures, functional flexibility, and thermal stability. We present for the first time the recently published literature on the incorporation of various PNMs into renewable materials to develop advanced, environmentally friendly, and high-quality packaging technology. Various emerging packaging technologies are discussed in this review, along with their advantages and disadvantages. Moreover, it provides general information about PNMs, their characterization, and fabrication methods. It also briefly describes the effects of different PNMs on the functionality of biopolymeric films. Furthermore, we examined how smart packaging loaded with PNMs can improve food shelf life and reduce food waste. The results indicate that PNMs play a critical role in improving the antimicrobial, thermal, physicochemical, and mechanical properties of natural packaging materials. These tailor-made materials can simultaneously extend the shelf life of food while reducing plastic usage and food waste.