Is the package an environmental villain or an environmental hero? Well, it all depends on what glasses you put on.
Packaging functions to protect the content on its way from the producer to the final use is certainly on the hero side. In countries that lack efficient distribution systems, including protective packaging, a large amount of the produced food is wasted because it is spoiled before it is consumed.
In industrialized countries, most of the food reaches consumers in good condition due to packaging and distribution systems. In paradox, the attention during the last decades has been directed to the role of packaging as environmental villain. Packaging is considered unnecessary and they build mountains of rubbish.
However, because the content of the package, especially when it comes to food, often has many times greater environmental impact than the packaging itself, it is unfortunate that the package functions not are addressed in the same way that the packaging material.
Our research concerns packaging attributes that affect food waste and recycling. We have identified a number of attributes and made several calculations if it can be environmentally beneficial to invest in more packaging material if food waste can be avoided. We have also made household studies to explore how much of the food wasted that depends on packaging attributes. (Read more here.)
Our vision is that producers and consumers will design, demand and use packaging that reduces the amount of food that is thrown away. You can help to realize this vision the next time you shop!