VINNOVA has granted SEK 500,000 to the research project “Packaging systems for reduced food waste”. The project will be coordinated by Innventia, bringing together relevant players to develop resource-efficient packaging solutions that lead to a reduction in resource consumption and environmental impact in the form of unnecessary food waste.
Up to 50 percent of all the food produced in the world is either destroyed or thrown away. Food waste refers to unnecessary food waste, such as food that could have been eaten if it had been dealt with differently. This waste is often linked to packaging and its ability to protect food, as well as the ability to communicate its different functions to consumers for optimum storage and use at home. According to the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency, roughly a million tonnes of food is thrown away each year in Sweden, with households accounting for the majority of this.
Innventia is now launching the project “Packaging systems for reduced food waste” as part of VINNOVA’s Challenge-Driven Innovation programme. A consortium of relevant players is being put together in association with Karlstad University, with the aim of developing new innovative packaging solutions to reduce food waste, throughout the entire value chain from food producer to consumer. The project is based on the extensive international research already being carried out within the field to map waste, with Helén Williams at Karlstad University playing a leading role. The new project involves more than mapping.
“What we want to do focuses more on concrete actions,” explains project leader Kristina Wickholm. “Our ambition is to develop real packaging solutions and to demonstrate the actual significance of the packaging when it comes to preventing waste from occurring. This has never been done before.”
Since two thirds of all packaging is used within the food and drink industry, the results will affect millions of users. With reduced food waste, it is hoped that the image of packaging can make the transition from environmental villain to environmental hero. Another effect that the researchers hope to achieve is new income streams for the forest industry.
“The Swedish forest industry is actively looking to identify new product areas. Packaging is a growth area where Sweden enjoys a strong position internationally. We now have the opportunity to take a leading role in the work to develop knowledge that contributes towards reducing food waste.”
As an initial step in the formation of the consortium, Innventia will be arranging a workshop on 4 June. Here, participants will work together to discuss concrete proposals for functional improvements that lead to reduced food waste. The workshop is aimed at all those who come into contact with packaging throughout the value chain, from material suppliers to consumers, as well as players who handle packaging, such as hauliers and kitchen designers.