Seeking circularity : Finding sustainable packaging solutions for fresh products

Thoden van Velzen, E.U.


This study explores the options to make fresh food packages more sustainable, recyclable or even circular recyclable. The packaging options for two fresh food products were examined: snack tomatoes and poultry meat products. The study revealed that there are indeed possibilities to make these packages recyclable and limit the environmental impact of the product-packaging combination. None of the currently available packages is circular recyclable and neither will they not potentially contribute to the formation of litter. However, existing packaging options can become circular recyclable in the near future when the required recycling technologies are developed. The quest for more circular recyclable packages did reveal several dilemmas. These dilemmas concern the whole value chains of both the product and the package and cannot be resolved by the food company alone. The quarry for more circular recyclable packages can only succeed when all the stakeholders are involved, including the citizens. Food companies can pursue multiple sustainability strategies (limit food waste, limit environmental impacts of the food-packaging combination, recyclability, circularity, limit the impact of littered packages) and all these strategies will render different packaging designs.