Multi-dimensional sustainability assessment of product-packaging combinations : MuDiSa: a calculation tool to assess the sustainability of product-packaging combinations in multiple dimensions of sustainability

Brouwer, Marieke; Thoden van Velzen, Ulphard


This report is part of a public-private partnership project “Wrap or waste” (BO-64-001-022). In this project the goal is to quantify the relationship between alternative preservation techniques and packaging materials on the one hand, and quality of perishable food products on the other hand, thereby helping the industry make optimal, well-founded and sustainable choices. Packaging and especially plastic packaging is increasingly under scrutiny from politicians, NGO’s and various other stakeholders, for its role in climate change and planetary pollution. This calls for a re-evaluation of the currently applied packaging formats. A change in packaging methods, however, has major ramifications on product quality, the product supply chain organisation and the packaging materials themselves. Via case studies on specific product-packaging combinations, quantitative data is collected and tools are developed that help to provide concrete answers that companies can use for their packaging choices. This public report describes MuDiSa, a calculation tool for multi-dimensional sustainability assessment, that is developed in this project. The results of the case studies are described in separate public summaries. The developed sustainability assessment tool calculates multiple sustainability indicators in an attempt to include the most important aspects of packaging sustainability: the effect of food loss & waste, the circularity of the packaging, the (circular) recycling of the packaging and the effect the packaging has on plastic soup formation due to littering. This tool is therefore unique in its kind, as to our knowledge no other product- packaging sustainability assessment tool includes all these aspects of packaging sustainability. The calculation tool works with case specific data about the packaging and food product and background data including the emission factors of materials and processes and recycling efficiencies. All this data is combined into multiple sustainability indicators that describe the sustainability of the product-packaging combinations in different dimensions of sustainability. The sustainability indicators are: • Greenhouse gas emissions, GWP-100 [kg CO2 equivalents / kg of consumed food] • Packaging to product weight ratio, PPR [%] • Recycled content indicator, ReConI [%] • Recyclability indicator, RI [%] • Circular recyclability indicator, CRI [%] • Recycling Chain Indicator, RCI [%] • Renewable content indicator, RenewI [%] • Organic recyclability indicator, ORI [%] • Littering prevention indicator, LPI [%] • Material Circularity Indicator, MCI [%]