New project provides resources including video to help understand food packaging disposal as public confused on ways to appropriately dispose packaging

Consumers can be more confident in packaging disposal thanks to a new campaign to help demystify food packaging.

A new project InFormPack funded by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT Food) will make it easier for consumers to make right packaging disposal choices. A team of researchers, businesses and authorities in Europe will be creating new campaigns to raise awareness and enable the public to improve their disposal patterns at home and on the go.

Researchers from the University of Reading and Aarhus University along with other European industry partners and research institutes surveyed 500 participants in the UK and Greece to understand the challenges they face in relation to both their choice and disposal of food packaging.

Researchers found that in both countries, people are generally confused about the disposal of food packaging, lack understanding of packaging logos, and do not understand the importance of packaging in fruits and vegetables. When it comes to recycling, questions such as: “Is it worse, if I put unclean packaging in the recycling, or is it worse if I do not recycle it at all?” were frequently asked.

Dr Niki Alexi from the Department of Food Science at Aarhus University said:

“This is a question frequently asked by the consumers in our study, but there are many more questions that need to be answered and information gaps to be addressed.”

Dr Bola Oloyede, Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of Reading said:

“Concerns about overpackaging of fruit and vegetables come from justifiable fears for our environment. However, the InFormPack project shows how misunderstanding about food packaging and recycling are undermining drives to make packaging disposal sustainable, and everyone has a part to play to make food packaging disposal more sustainable and easier.”

Based on the results of the survey, three prominent packaging themes emerged:

  1. packaging icons,
  2. cleaning of packaging before recycling,
  3. fresh fruits and vegetables packaging.

Different campaigns have been created using two different formats of communication (video and infographics) and are currently being tested to evaluate their impact on consumer behaviour regarding packaging disposal.

Dr Stella Lignou, Associate Professor of Sensory and Consumer Science said: “The preliminary results of the campaigns’ impact on consumer behaviour are very promising and we are very excited for the future. We believe these results would lay a good foundation for a multi-year-long research project covering more countries”.

About EIT Food

INFORMPack is a project under the support of EIT Food. EIT Food is the world’s largest and most dynamic food innovation community. We accelerate innovation to build a future-fit food system that produces healthy and sustainable food for all.

Supported by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), a body of the European Union, we invest in projects, organisations and individuals that share our goals for a healthy and sustainable food system. We unlock innovation potential in businesses and universities, and create and scale agrifood startups to bring new technologies and products to market. We equip entrepreneurs and professionals with the skills needed to transform the food system and put consumers at the heart of our work, helping build trust by reconnecting them to the origins of their food.

We are one of eight innovation communities established by the European Institute for Innovation & Technology (EIT), an independent EU body set up in 2008 to drive innovation and entrepreneurship across Europe.

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