Producing food that is thrown away has greater environmental impacts than using more packaging than what many consumers would consider necessary.

New packaging to reduce food waste

Far too much food is thrown away! Scientists are now working with food, packaging and equipment producers to develop solutions that lead to more of the food being eaten.

This article was last updated more than two years ago.

About the project

The project Riktig emballering for redusert matsvinn (Optimal packaging to reduce food waste), with the abbreviated name REforReM, is a three-year Innovation Project for the Industrial Sector (IPN) financed by the Research Council of Norway.

The project is to be led at BAMA by Thomas Eie. Other participants among producers are Grilstad, Hallvard Lerøy, Lauvsnes Gartneri, Tommen Gram, Promens , BWL Maskin and Lexit. Other research partners than Nofima are Ostfold Research. Matvett take also part in the project.

Wasting food is a huge problem – all over the world. The total food wasted in Norway in 2013 amounted to 361,000 tonnes, which corresponds to approximately NOK 18 billion. On a global basis, consumers throw away food for USD 400 billion each year. This wastage is not only a financial loss: it has a heavy impact on the environment and presents ethical dilemmas.

Producing food that is thrown away has greater environmental impacts than using more packaging than what many consumers would consider necessary. The packaging protects and preserves the food, and four of the eight most important reasons given by consumers for throwing food away are associated with its packaging.

Start with the food products

“Different foods require different packaging. This is why in this project we start with the actual food products, and work towards the optimal packaging solutions from there,” says Senior research scientist Marit Kvalvåg Pettersen of the food research institute Nofima. She is responsible also for the project management and coordinating the research activities.

She and her colleagues are to investigate, among other things, the effects of various packaging materials and packaging technologies [sic, missing text? “to discover the ones”] that are most suitable for various food products.

Vegetables, meat and fish products are among the food products to be investigated. The goal is that in a few years’ time, each one of us is to throw away less food, because optimal and the newly developed packaging technologies improve product quality and may increase shelf-life.

What should the packaging say?

Consumer studies and knowledge about consumer behaviour and needs are the starting points for the development of new packaging variants [sic, extra text? “t”], which will contribute to reducing food waste.

Packaging is already used to inform, but there is a huge potential for improvement. Furthermore, faulty labelling is a significant reason for food products being withdrawn from the market. Faulty labelling was the cause of 35% of all withdrawals of food from the market in Great Britain in 2011.

The participants in this project will investigate, among other things, how labels can be used more effectively than they are at present.

Sustainable choices

Life-cycle analyses will be a central tool used to ensure that the packaging solutions that are developed in the project are sustainable. These analyses are to document how such things as choice of materials, packing method and design impact the environment, food waste and logistics. Scientists will use current packaging solutions as the reference for this work.

 Food safety and quality  

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