Well packaged: Tradeoffs in sustainable food packaging design


Making food packaging more sustainable is a complex process. Research has shown that specific knowledge is needed to support packaging developers to holistically improve the sustainability of packaging.

Within this study we aim to provide insights in the various tradeoffs designers face with the aim to provide insights for future sustainable food packaging (re)design endeavors. The study consists of analyzing and coding 19 reports in which bachelor students worked on assignments ranging from (1) analyzing the supply chain of a food product-packaging combination to (2) redesigning a specific food packaging. We identified 6 tradeoffs: (1) Perceived Sustainability vs. Achieved Sustainability, (2) Food Waste vs. Sustainability, (3) Branding vs. Sustainability, (4) Product Visibility vs. Sustainability, (5) Costs vs. Sustainability, and (6) Use Convenience vs Sustainability. We compared the six tradeoffs with literature. Two tradeoffs can be seen as additional to topics mentioned within literature, namely product visibility and use convenience. In addition, while preventing food waste is mentioned as an important functionality of food packaging, this functionality seems to be underexposed within practice.

Reference Sumter, D. X., Oskam, I., Poldner, K., & Zuidberg, A. F. (2023). Well packaged: Tradeoffs in sustainable food packaging design. 1029-1034. Paper presented at 5th Product Lifetimes and the Environment Conference, Espoo, Finland.
31 May 2023

Publication date

May 2023


K. Poldner
A.F. Zuidberg


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