Wrap or waste
The food industry is working hard to find sustainable solutions to reduce the amount of plastic packaging. Packaging is popular in the industry because its barrier properties extend the shelf life of fresh produce and other food products. Removing the plastic packaging reduces the shelf life of products, resulting in more food wasted.
Sustainable packaging without more waste
The goal of this project is to quantify the relationship between packaging and alternative techniques on the one hand, and the preservation of product quality on the other hand, thereby helping the industry make optimal, well-founded and sustainable choices. In addition to sustainable materials, this particularly concerns the creation of sustainable production chains (from production to waste processing and recycling).
Effect of eliminating packaging
Changing packaging methods affect product quality, the product supply chain and the packaging materials themselves. This project has generated quantitative data to help companies choose the most sustainable solution for their specific situation. For example, should cucumbers be packaged, or is there a more sustainable alternative available? The research presents facts to justify such choices, rather than basing them on sentiment and gut feeling.
The project focuses on alternative packaging methods and presents concrete case studies to illustrate the results. The case studies take various trends into account, such as:
- Eliminating packaging for fresh produce as much as possible
- Using alternative materials and changing packaging dimensions
- Using thinner plastic in packaging
- Making packaging recyclable
- Switching to recyclable materials
- Using alternatives to packaging (coatings, dry misting, etc.)
- Laser tagging
- Communicating complex sustainability advantages to customers
The case studies will consider such aspects as:
- The degree of protection and thus the extension of the product’s shelf life
- The impact on quality and waste
- The impact of material use (translated into carbon footprint)
- Recyclability in the Dutch waste system
- The costs and consequences of introducing these alternatives
Each case has concrete answers and data that companies can use directly to make packaging choices.
An umbrella programme will ensure the knowledge is integrated and translated to the requirements of the specific sector segments.
The project team is seeking to cooperate with various companies in the case studies, such as food producers, food and fresh produce wholesalers, supermarkets, packaging suppliers and producers, and producers of packaging alternatives. The most important thing is that the company is interested in making the production chain more sustainable. Participating companies are asked to make an in-cash and an in-kind contribution, whereby the latter requirement can be met through the input of material and technologies and participation in practical experiments. This contribution will be supplemented with project funding provided through the government’s Agri & Food Top Sector. Please contact us at if you are interested.
Kenniscafe Duurzame Voedselverwerking – TKI – Verpakkingen of Verliezen
Online impactsessie nr 6
Seeking circularity : Finding sustainable packaging solutions for fresh productsWageningen : Wageningen Food & Biobased Research (Report / Wageningen Food & Biobased Research 2068) - ISBN 9789463954679 - p.