Perpetual Plastic for Food-to-Go

Project timeframe
1 November 2020 - 31 October 2023
Research area
Responsible Design
Amount awarded
Funder ID

Project leader: Dr Garrath Wilson

This innovative multi-disciplinary project will develop, prototype, and evaluate a novel circular business model that combines smart-technology enabled products and services to reduce the environmental, societal, and economic impact of food-to-go packaging.

Food-to-go (FTG), fresh and chilled foods such as sandwiches and prepared salads sold by food retailers for consumption out of the home, is a growing UK market driven by the rise in convenience lifestyles. The FTG industry at present yields a significant amount of single-use packaging waste which is detrimental to our planet, but also represents substantial resource value loss. Driven by traditional business models that operate on a 'take-make-dispose' economic system, efforts to transform the FTG industry to a more circular economic system (the Circular Economy (CE)), one in which plastic packaging is no longer single-use and resource value is retained within a loop, have been limited. This is partly due to the lack of historic cooperation across the supply chain to define and address the problem; the complexity of transitioning multiple industry and consumer stakeholders to a new circular approach; and the lack of understanding of consumer behaviour.

Recognising that no one single approach will overcome the identified problems, we bring together academics with expertise in sustainable design, sustainable manufacturing, and polymer chemistry with project partners that represent the interests of all operators and stages within the FTG supply chain; from manufacturer through to retailer. Together, we will use a combined approach of novel smart technologies and quality assurance methods, in-depth understanding and modelling of consumer behaviour, and comprehensive supply chain value assessment to propose a novel future FTG Circular Product-Service System (CPSS).