Sustainable packages

Project leader: Prof Hans van Trijp
Time frame: 2014 – 2018
Project code: SD002
Project login (project members only)



The project aimed to deliver scientific based insights, regarding the environmental burden caused by product packaging chains in the Netherlands. In order to succeed, the most relevant mechanisms that contribute to this environmental burden will be clarified. Via a strong interconnection between the work packages, the integration of the insights will strengthen the science base in the field of packaging, to feed into an implementation and valorization process of ‘holistic’ packaging design. It does so by taking the design requirements of different actors in the chain into account beforehand, as well as the environmental impact that such design choices may have across the total packaging life cycle. The project aimed to facilitate the circular economy approach, by reducing the environmental impact of packaging in relation to the functioning of the product-packaging combinations. The project addressed a number of fundamental knowledge gaps regarding packaging throughout its life cycle.

The research will be executed in four work packages:

  • The development of a consensus model for the assessment of the total environmental impact of product-packaging chains
  • Development of innovative packaging design tools and solutions based on scientific insight into end consumer and marketing requirements, and the state of the art in the packaging design discipline
  • Collection and recycling efficiency and effectiveness, studying the relationships between the psychological factors of individuals inside collection areas and the attained collection results, and the relationship between packaging design and the EOL fates of these packages
  • In-depth exploration of the strategic redesign of the plastic-waste chain by research to explore the application possibilities of recovered packaging materials, and scenario studies to forecast improvements of the overall packaging system

The main scientific benefits are a better understanding of critical processes along the packaging chain: the packaging design process, the packaging material collection process, the utilization of recycled materials and the environmental assessment of product-packaging systems. The industrial benefits have been dealt with in a separate valorization program, connected to the research network coordinator.

Ultimately, the project will develop new tools and methodologies for the product packaging design process in which packaging requirements of key actors and environmental impacts across the packaging lifecycle are taken into consideration beforehand.