Away from the pack
Environmental sustainability and business don’t always go hand in hand, especially when it comes to product packaging.
Yet choosing serving size packages and smaller packages is smarter for the climate, according to a new study from CTF, Service Research Center at Karlstad University.
The research although based on 37 households in Karlstad and Stockholm, measured and logged their food waste, and conducted intervews to find answers to why consumers throw away different types of food and what role the packaging has.
The findings are very insightful.
Helén Williams, associate professor of environmental and energy systems and responsible for the study, said that food in smarter packaging, for example in smaller portions which can be eaten to a greater extent, are better for the climate even if more packaging materials are used.
The results also show that the packaging design plays a bigger role than previous research has shown.
This presents a challenge for food manufacturers. Will consumers accept a design that has to incorporate a long shelf life to avoid them throwing out foods when the packaging has too much content and they are was uncertain about the date labels and food safety.
Packaging will have to evolve to reduce confusion over date labels and if the food is safe to eat, as well as, Williams finds, “adapting the packaging to meet the consumers’ needs so that they are not tempted to buy more food than they can eat”.
We must also factor in food that spoils in open packaging – a particular bugbear of mine.
Packaging is the first thing that consumers see, and heavily influences their buying decisions. It is also is the last message a consumer sees and a last chance to convince them to buy the product.