Preventing Waste - Challenges for Household Food Packaging


Sustainable packaging is not just bio-based, reusable, or recyclable. It also prevents food from going to waste. Many processes, such as modified atmosphere packaging or the use of indicators, are applicable to the industrial or commercial sector. However, they are rarely practical for domestic use.

The risks associated with the packaging and storage of food in the home are numerous and varied, as are the impacts of environmental factors. Food spoilage can begin long before the consumer expects it. It is therefore crucial to examine the consumer's role in the food chain, particularly how perishable food is handled, prepared, and stored at home. With this in mind, what is the most effective course of action, according to scientific research? 

So how can packaging help consumers handle food in a safer and healthier way at home?

Even with the best knowledge and intentions, consumers may not be able to store food in the best possible way. Packaging research can help to avoid these risks. Special (bio-based) coatings that prevent microbial growth could be a solution. This would provide safer food packaging for the home that would combat bacterial contamination. However, the coating could interfere with the desired properties of the packaging material, making it unlikely to be suitable for use as home food packaging. And most importantly, what is the consumer acceptance of this help in the form of packaging material?

The use of RFID or other indicators is a possibility. Over the last few decades, smart home technology has come a long way, and the cost of RFID has dropped significantly. Its use in food packaging is becoming more realistic. But is the same true for use in the home?


Almost two decades after the Cofresco Forum Roundtable at the University of Bonn (2017), the question "Can packaging help consumers handle food in a safer and healthier way at home?" is still as hot as ever. We look forward to further research and ideas.

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