May 11-June 15, 2021 | Virtual

The Intersection of Packaging and Food Waste

In the US, 37% of food waste takes place in the home, and another 28% occurs in consumer-facing businesses such as foodservice and retail (ReFED). Addressing this food waste is a key solution for tackling climate change (Project Drawdown).

Packaging and food waste are often thought of as binary choices for a brand- either you use packaging and prevent food waste, or you don’t use packaging and create food waste. At the same time, consumers want less packaged food and aren’t familiar with how packaging might be preventing food waste.

In tackling food waste, packaging design is the seventh most effective strategy in terms of climate impact potential, with the potential to reduce emissions by 3.57 metric tons CO2e each year. Active and intelligent packaging was another top strategy for preventing food waste. Yet most manufacturers and brands aren’t actively designing or optimizing packaging to reduce food waste. Many either focus exclusively on the recoverability of their packaging, or assume their packaging already performs well in preventing food waste.

The result is that there is a significant opportunity to improve packaging design and the broader product-packaging system to reduce food waste in homes and businesses.

To address this challenge, the SPC is launching its newest project: Food Waste Repackaged. This will include:

  • A Learning Series (Virtual Events)
  • An Innovation Challenge
  • A Mentorship Program
  • A Showcase Event to Celebrate Challenge Winners

The Learning Series phase included virtual events (webinars) in May and June. Open to all, these explored topics such as:

  • Understanding Packaging’s Role in Food Waste
  • Ripe for Redesign: Better Packaging to Reduce Food Waste
  • Innovations in Food Waste Prevention
  • Saving Food through Collaboration

SPC Food Waste Repackaged by the Numbers


SPC Food Waste Repackaged by the Numbers

Event Highlights

Title: Presentation | Understanding Packaging’s Role in Food Waste
Description: In this session, we’ll explore the role that packaging design plays in food waste. We’ll look at where food waste occurs in the supply chain, focusing on retail and consumer environments and reviewing the data for why food is thrown away by consumers. We will take a closer look at how packaging design can help prevent food waste, but also how many of today’s packaging choices and formats are causing additional food waste. ReFED will share their latest food waste data and analytics, offering insights into how packaging adjustments, such as active packaging, spoilage prevention, and design changes, are a key strategy for reducing food waste.
Speaker: Dana Gunders, Executive Director, ReFED

Title: Presentation | Save Food Packaging: Design Packaging with Food Waste Minimization in Mind
Description: While the primary function of packaging is to protect, contain, preserve and transport a product, the function of intuitive Save Food Packaging Design to minimize food waste, is only now being discussed. As a core participant of the Fight Food Waste Cooperative Research Centre, the Australian Institute of Packaging (AIP) has been working on guidelines that will help packaging technologists to design Save Food Packaging to minimize food waste from paddock to plate.
This is by using innovative and intuitive design features that can contain and protect, preserve, extend shelf life, and can be opened and resealed easily, provide consumer convenience and portion control – while also meeting global sustainable packaging targets. This session will explore new criteria for designing packaging to reduce food waste, best practice examples from companies, and key findings from research into this topic.
Speaker: Nerida Kelton, Executive Director, Australian Institute of Packaging

Title: Presentation | Stop waste, Save food: The Environmental Benefits of Packaging
Description: What are the possibilities to reduce and replace plastic in primary food packaging? What is the environmental benefit of packaging optimization when looking into the value chain? How do consumer preferences on sustainable consumption steer the demands on materials? How does a more sustainable packaging contribute to the buying decision of consumers? These questions and many more will be answered in Joachim´s presentation, as he focuses on the recommendations how to optimize packaging looking into the whole value chain.
Speaker: Joachim Kircher, Senior Manager, Knowledge and Innovation Manager, denkstatt group

Title: Preventing Household Food Waste: Better by Design
Description: UK citizens waste 4.5 million tonnes of food that could have been eaten every year, the equivalent of eight meals a week per household. Wasting food costs UK citizens £14 billion annually – or more than £700 a year for a family with children*. Food businesses play an important part in helping households to reduce food waste by ensuring citizens are provided with consistent, clear advice and ‘designing out’ the potential for waste. Join Helen White from WRAP – global NGO and one of the UK’s top environmental charities – to discuss household food waste in the UK, the relationship between packaging and food waste and WRAP’s guidance for food businesses on putting citizen food waste prevention front and centre of products, packs and labels. *WRAP, 2020
Speaker: Helen White, Special Advisor – Household Food Waste, WRAP

Title: Presentation | Packaging Technology Advancements and their Implementation to Prevent Food Waste
Description: Package-based solutions have a unique role in preventing consumer and retail/QSR-derived food waste. Case studies on successful active and intelligent packaging tools that prevent food waste will be shared. Screening innovative and new science and value chain emerging solutions for specific applications is essential and this process will be shared to detail how technologies are best selected. A platform to measure retailer/QSRs and consumer food waste savings, willingness-to-pay for the added expenditure of food waste prevention solutions and the means to communicate this benefit to consumers and retailer/QSRs provides context for the new and innovative solutions.
Speaker: Dr. Claire Sand, Founder, Packaging Technology and Research, LLC

Title: Ripe for Redesign: Better Packaging to Reduce Food Waste
Description: How can the entire food supply chain track food waste better? In fact, without traceability systems it’s almost impossible to measure the quantity of food wasted on a continuous 24x7x365 basis. Peer Ledger, a blockchain traceability provider, will speak about how organizations can conduct continuous internal and external waste audits to learn what waste flows through their facilities by measuring and recording the amount, type, and reason for the generation of the wasted food. Such traceability systems will help management to create effective food waste strategies. This theme will highlight how companies can collaborate to monitor and share proof of progress towards reducing food waste with both internal and external stakeholders.
Speaker: Dr. Dawn Jutla, Founder and President, Peer Ledger

Title: Presentation | We Need Food to Live, but Packaging to Survive: How We Will Overcome our Waste Problem
Description: In the age of modern food retail, which appeared in the early 20th century and has chiefly remained unchanged since— we’ve seen waves of innovation that have contributed to solving discrete, disconnected problems that are remarkable in their own right but simultaneously have gotten us where we are today— a situation in which broadly-unsustainable-packaging does an inconsistent job of preserving our food and conserving our environment.
Can we design a material that does it all? A material that can disappear or be recycled or reused once used, that protects, preserves and enhances shelf life of the products it contains?
Or, do we need to look beyond just materials?
And, is plastic our only enemy?
In this talk, Brandi will share some findings she’s come across whilst working in the CPG and branding industries; innovations in material science and in the industry of food production that contribute to our food’s shelf life and longevity in our homes. We’ll touch on the history of our groceries and stores; how that connects to who we are as humans and how we have crafted our society. And, ultimately how we will increase foods’ lifespan as well as our own.
Speaker: Brandi Parker, Head of Sustainability, Pearlfisher

Title: Panel | Innovations in Food Waste Prevention
Description: This session will explore how innovations in packaging design, such as sensors, coatings, inserts, and other smart packaging, can help to reduce food waste. After an overview of the opportunities for packaging to help address the food waste in consumers’ homes, we’ll hear from industry experts with research, consulting, and investment backgrounds on the packaging design innovations they see as having the most potential to prevent food waste.
Hannah Friedman, Investment Associate, Closed Loop Partners
Dick De Koning, Founding Partner, PACKZ
Tim Sykes, Brand Director, Packaging Europe
Helén Williams, Associate Professor of Environmental Strategy and Systems, Karlstad University
Dr. Karlheinz Hausmann, Sr. TS&D Fellow, Dow Packaging and Specialty Plastics

Title: Panel | The Entrepreneurial Landscape of Food Packaging Innovations
Description: This panel will feature innovation examples developed by new companies and startups that are disrupting the approach to design, materials selection, applications and R&D for food packaging.
Aidan Mouat, CEO and Co-Founder, Hazel Technologies
Moody Soliman, Founder and CEO, Ryp Labs
Max Grell, CEO, Blakbear
Francisco Palma, Founder & CEO, PolyNatural
Adam Behrens, CEO, Mori

Title: Panel | Saving Food through Collaboration
Description: Food waste is a systems problem, and solving it will require innovation and collaboration across the supply chain and across industry players. In this session we’ll learn from food waste experts who will highlight the key levers in the food system that can effectively reduce waste. We’ll also hear how CPGs and food brands are aligning on goals to address and reduce food waste, using packaging design and innovation as a way to meet these goals.
Ignacio Gavilan, Director Sustainability, Consumer Goods Forum
Anne Greven, Managing Director FoodBytes and Global Head of F&A Startup Innovation, Rabobank
Dr. Liz Goodwin OBE, World Resources Institute Senior Fellow and Director, Food Loss and Waste
Jim Giles, Senior Analyst, Food & Carbon Systems, GreenBiz
James Pronio, Manager Food Loss & Waste, WWF
Jennifer Ronk, Sustainability Manager North America – Packaging and Specialty Plastics, Dow

Title: The Big Interview with Chef Joel Gamoran
Description: Join Olga Kachook from the SPC as she interviews Chef Joel Gamoran, one of the country’s most well-known sustainable chefs. Joel hosted the hit series “Scraps” on A&E Networks where he championed ingredients that typically get tossed, and became the culinary face of the fight against food waste. In this session, Chef Gamoran will share his perspective on how to engage with consumers and at the household level to make the most of all ingredients, the role that packaging has in food preservation and his latest initiative Homemade, a series of digital cooking experiences.
Speaker: Chef Joel Gamoran, Chef