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Role of packaging in the smorgasbord of action for sustainable food consumption

corresponding

HÉLÈNE ANGELLIER-COUSSY, VALÉRIE GUILLARD, CAROLE GUILLAUME, NATHALIE GONTARD*
*Corresponding author
Université Montpellier II, Unité Mixte de Recherche «Ingénierie des Agropolymères et Technologies Emergentes», INRA/ENSA.M/UMII/CIRAD, CC023, pl. E Bataillon, 34095 Montpellier, Cedex, France

Abstract

In a context of food security concerns, reducing huge and worldwide food losses and waste (more than one third of food production) is the priority action to focus on. The paper aims at explaining at which levels packaging could be a key player for sustainable food consumption: (i) by improving food preservation, and therefore reducing food losses, by balancing cold chain issues with modified atmosphere packaging implementation which means to develop food requirements driven approaches to design tailor made packaging, (ii) by reducing the environmental impact of the packaging materials themselves, including wastes management issues, which means developing eco-friendly packaging and (iii) by reaching a compromise to answer the sometimes contradictory concerns of environmental, economical and social sustainability of food, using decision-making tools to select or design optimised food packaging. An example of a current European research project, EcoBioCAP, illustrates how the combination of both specialised and integrated researches makes it possible to improve the overall sustainability of food packaging.


INTRODUCTION

Sustainable development is “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” (1). It is a concept open to a large range of interpretation, but there is a high consensus in scientific literature to define it as that humans should use resources within the limits of nature’s carrying capacity and seek equity between generations and equity within generations. It is well demonstrated that organisational sustainability consists of three main components including the natural environment, the society and the economic performance. The “triple bottom line” allows an organisation to achieve long-term economic viability and addresses community goals for economic growth, soc