The influence of packaging attributes on consumer behaviour in food-packaging LCA studies – a neglected topic

New  journal article in press by international friends Fredrik Wikström, Helén Williams, Karli Verghese and myself. To read the artice click here.

The influence of packaging attributes on consumer behaviour in food-packaging LCA studies – a neglected topic

The role of packaging systems to reduce food waste is rarely modelled in life cycle assessment (LCA) studies. This means that a packaging system format with a lower environmental impact that causes high food waste, may appear to be a better alternative than a packaging system with a higher environmental impact that reduces food waste. This can be contradictory to the purpose of using LCA to reduce overall environmental impacts, because food generally has a higher environmental impact than the packaging system. This paper highlights packaging attributes that may influence food waste, and demonstrates via six packaging scenarios how the environmental impact for the functional unit of “eaten food” can be calculated when food waste is included. The results show that the function of “avoiding food waste” is a critical packaging issue. The connection between packaging design and food waste should be acknowledged and valued by relevant stakeholders such as: food producers, manufacturers, brand owners, retailers and consumers, and also in packaging regulations. To fully explore the potential for packaging systems to reduce their overall environmental impact, food waste should be included.

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Published

26th of November 2013