Exploring the opportunities of reducing the environmental impact of ready meal trays

University essay from Lunds universitet/Förpackningslogistik

Abstract: As convenience keeps driving the ready meals market, the foreseen rising sales might increase the environmental impact caused by this food category. Strategies for reducing the environmental impact of food products have been identified, some focusing on food packaging and eco-design. However, a gap between the current published guidelines and the requirements considered by food companies has been identified. Moreover, the opportunities and challenges for food packaging companies have only been briefly studied, and a deeper understanding of their role is needed. This master thesis has been conducted in cooperation with Micvac AB, a ready meal packaging and technology Swedish company. This research aims to identify the opportunities and challenges of reducing the indirect environmental impact of the company through including logistic requirements in their tray design process. This purpose is fulfilled by understanding their current environmental impact in the supply chain, their packaging design process, and the current fill rate performance using interviews, observation, and experiments as primary data collection tools. The information is complemented with a literature review for discussing the findings. The resulting requirements involve designing the trays based on the dimensions of secondary packaging to improve the fill rate in the packaging system. There is an opportunity of reducing GHG emissions, while the main challenge includes increasing collaboration with retailers, which have the central control of order quantities in Sweden. Consequently, it was highlighted that the improvements in fill rate should go in hand with apportionment requirements by the different actors. The identified opportunities and challenges give a bigger picture of packaging companies' position when designing more environmentally friendly packaging. The latter pursuing the goal of reducing the negative impact and increasing the value for customers and consumers.

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