Sustainable food packaging


Start 1. January 2009
End 31. December 2012
Funded by The Foundation for Research Levy on Agricultural Products

The food industry is a mass consumer of packaging, and thus has a major responsibility for reducing the environmental damages packaging can cause throughout the value chain. Product wastage causes far more extensive environmental damage than the packaging itself, and the packaging also plays a key role in the protection and conservation of food to prevent wastage.

Strategic institute programme

The aim of this programme is to contribute to sustainable and competitive production, storage and distribution of food through the packaging of food. New materials and packaging solutions can contribute to reduced wastage and increased efficiency in transportation.

Fruit and veg

We know that the consumption of fruit and vegetables will continue to increase in the time ahead, both in the form of direct consumption and as ingredients in various fresh and processed mixed products. Sustainable packaging will also mean that some of the fruit and vegetables which were previously sold without packaging, will be packaged in order to increase their quality and shelf life and to reduce wastage. The sector has a number of different raw materials with greatly varied packaging requirements. Finding optimal packaging solutions adapted to each product's respiration, growth conditions and distribution will be a challenge.


We know that oxidation of food by light can be a problem for food producers, and that this leads to food wastage at shop level and in the consumers' homes. At the same time, we know that supermarket chains and lighting manufacturers have insufficient knowledge of the damaging effects of light on food.
New types of lighting, such as diodes, are currently on their way into the shops, and opening hours are being extended, so that the products' total exposure to light is increasing. There is a need for more knowledge on oxidation by light in all parts of the value chain.

Packaging and the environment

As part of the debate on the global climate, the packaging industry has in the past few years focused on sustainable packaging, in terms of both materials and solutions. The main trends include the development of mono materials with sufficient barrier properties which are easier for waste collection systems to process, the development of materials from renewable resources as well as the use of various packaging technologies which contribute to increased quality, longer shelf life, less wastage and increased transport efficiency, respectively. In practice this will entail an optimisation of packaging solutions, the use of biomaterials and other new packaging materials, and new solutions to provide greater food safety and higher food quality.

Our aim is:
1) to develop new testing methods to assess important packaging properties, in order to be able to choose optimal packaging materials and solutions for different foods,
2) to increase the knowledge of the mechanisms underlying specific chemical and biological processes which damage the quality of selected foods, for instance oxidation processes in meat and dairy products and respiration in fruit and vegetables, and
3) to contribute to the development of new and more sustainable packaging materials and solutions from both renewable and non-renewable sources in collaboration with both the industry and other research environments.





None Photo: Kjell J. Merok
Copyright: Nofima

Testing packaging. Photo: Kjell J. Merok
Copyright: Nofima

Testing packaging.

Various types of packaging. Photo: Kjell J. Merok
Copyright: Nofima

Various types of packaging.

Relevant news

  • Packaging with smart functions

    13. April 2012

    Researchers believe that the packaging of the future will contain substances that will get rid of unwanted bacteria. Or it could be made from food waste.

Project manager

  • Marit Kvalvåg Pettersen

    Senior Research Scientist, Adjunct Associate Professor, Norwegian University of Life Sciences

    Phone: +47 64970280