Optimizing the Environmental Performance of Food Product-Package Systems: A life Cycle Assessment of the Tradeoffs Between Packaging Design and Food Waste
Recent emphasis on packaging light weighting and recyclability may be overshadowing a far greater influence of packaging on sustainability: product waste reduction through product protection and safe and efficient product delivery. Often, the life cycle environmental impacts of product-package systems are dominated by production of the product itself; this is particularly true for many food products. We hypothesize that there are opportunities to improve the environmental benefits of food packaging systems by optimizing design parameters based on the full life cycle impact of the combined food product-package system.
We propose to develop a life cycle assessment model capable of evaluating the full-system environmental trade-offs between packaging design and food waste. Through scan-level consideration of the range of food types and packaging design options and detailed assessment of specific case studies, we will demonstrate opportunities for packaging innovation to reduce system environmental impacts by decreasing food waste across food processing, retail and consumer stages.