Vegetables and fruits in a circular economy: packaging challenges and design opportunities

DS 122: Proceedings of the Design Society: 24th International Conference on Engineering Design (ICED23)

Year: 2023
Editor: Kevin Otto, Boris Eisenbart, Claudia Eckert, Benoit Eynard, Dieter Krause, Josef Oehmen, Nad
Author: Broucke, Juliette; Noeth, Esther; Du Bois, Els
Series: ICED
Institution: University of Antwerp, faculty of Design Sciences, department Product Development
Section: Design Methods
Page(s): 3781-3790
DOI number:


Packaging of potatoes, vegetables and fruits (PVF) currently deals with the fragile opposition of food waste reduction and packaging resource consumption. In order to understand how designers can rethink this always negative balance and outcome of waste creation, research was done to understand packaging and preservation of PVFs from both a technological and consumer perspective. A mixed research approach was applied, including literature study, expert interviews, packaging analyses, consumer survey and photo study. In sum, we concluded that the main function of packaging is preservation, including both protection from outside influences and conservation in best possible conditions. Optimal preservation should consider each PVF's respiration and transpiration needs, and ethylene sensitivity. Consumers are mostly not aware of correct preservation methods. However, on the other hand, their awareness evokes an important tendency to ban plastics without considering their positive impact on food preservation. In the paper, design opportunities are formulated for new reusable packaging, reducing waste creation and offering higher quality in food preservation and consumer experience.

Keywords: Circular economy, Food waste, Design engineering, Ecodesign, Packaging design

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