EREF announces food waste and packaging sustainability study
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EREF announces food waste and packaging sustainability study

In partnership with Ameripen and Michigan State University, EREF will study the relationship between packaging and household food waste.

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The Environmental Research & Education Foundation (EREF) has announced a new sustainability-driven project, partnered with Ameripen (the American Institute for Packaging and the Environment) and Michigan State University, which will focus on the consumer relationship between packaging and food waste.

According to a release, the objective of this research will be to collect data and gain an understanding of the relationship between packaging and household food waste. The project will explore how consumers use packaging in the home before and after food waste measurement. It will also analyze the research findings and identify where more information is needed to recommend potential solutions to leverage the value of packaging to decrease household consumer food waste.

“Human behavior is one of the largest factors that impact waste generation and disposal,” says Bryan Staley, president and CEO of EREF. Food packaging design and functionality are critical elements that shape consumer perception of how food is managed inside the household. That perception can be a driving factor in subsequent behaviors that influence the amount of food waste generated.”

He continues, “It is critical to increase our understanding of the interaction between perception, food packaging and food waste generation so we may better equip consumers and manufacturers alike in our quest to reduce food waste. EREF is proud to partner with Ameripen and Michigan State University to conduct this study and focus on the intersection between food packaging and a more sustainable future for our environment.”

“We are thrilled to be working with two highly respected academic organizations in the fields of packaging and waste to help bring a level of scientific rigor and data integrity to this effort,” says Dan Felton, executive director at Ameripen. “In 2016 ReFED identified packaging as a key instrument in reducing food waste within North America. A Swedish study estimated 25 percent of household food waste could be reduced by improving the consumer relationship with packaging—either because the consumer removes products from packaging upon arrival home, they fail to properly seal packaging or packaging is inadequately designed to help them reduce waste.

“By better quantifying the relationship between consumers, packaging and household food waste, we believe we can help inform strategies to reduce wasted food and the subsequent greenhouse gas emission resulting from this loss. The promise of this collaborative provides an opportunity not only to collect much needed scientific data, but also to leverage insights from this data into meaningful action and change.”