Perspectives on sustainable food packaging:– is bio-based plastics a solution?

Ana Carina Loureiro Mendes*, Gitte Alsing Pedersen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


The demand for more sustainable packaging materials is increasing. However, the multidisciplinary and complexity of this topic often lead to misconceptions among food packaging designers and producers, which challenge the creation of more sustainable food packaging systems.

Scope and approach
This manuscript presents in a holistic perspective the most relevant parameters that need to be considered for sustainability in food packaging and aims to increase the awareness of food and packaging producers to create effective sustainable packaging materials for foods.

Key Findings and Conclusions
The use of bio-based plastic packaging materials contribute to create more sustainable food packaging materials, comparatively to conventional plastic packaging materials, when looking at climate impact responses. Although bio-based plastic packaging materials have reduced climate impact, there are other environmental impacts (e.g. eutrophication, use of water and pesticides, effects on biodiversity) that are less favorable for using bio-based materials and should also be considered. Recycling of the packaging significantly contributes to reduce its environmental and climate impacts. The sum of the climate and environmental impacts of the packaging should be seen together with the food it protects. The combined system should be assessed in its entire lifecycle and optimized through the design, production and end life of the packaging material to improve its sustainability.
Original languageEnglish
JournalTrends in Food Science and Technology
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2021


  • Food packaging
  • Plastics
  • Bio-based materials
  • Sustainability
  • Life cycle assessment
  • Plastic recycling

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