This report compares the environmental impacts of single use plastic packaging versus alternative options for supermarket food, intended for home consumption. The report is part of a series of meta-analyses of Life cycle assessment (LCA) studies that provides recommendations to policy makers on alternatives to commonly used single use plastic products. Life cycle assessment (LCA) is a well established tool for assessing the potential environmental impacts associated with a product or service across its whole value chain.
Food packaging is well represented in the LCA literature. This meta-analysis focuses on recent comparative LCA studies that consider alternatives to single-use plastic packaging, amongst other criteria. Of the approximately 95 studies identified in the literature, 33 LCA studies are analysed in depth in this meta-analysis, clustered by three food archetypes, namely Refrigerated products, Fresh produce and Pantry goods. Four cross-cutting themes emerged from the analysis of the food packaging literature. These are:
- the interplay between packaging and food waste,
- the potential for bio-based and biodegradable plastics to replace conventional plastics,
- the potential for reusable packaging systems,
- the lack of inclusion of the impacts of plastic packaging litter on the environment and human health.
This report provides recommendations
on supermarket food packaging
per food archetype and per cross-cutting theme.