Function-driven Investigation of Non-renewable Energy Use and Greenhouse Gas Emissions for Material Selection in Food Packaging Applications: Case Study of Yoghurt Packaging
Food packaging based on materials from renewable resources, such as biobased plastics, is a subject of continued interest as it offers the potential to reduce environmental impacts of packaging. So far, many food packaging LCA studies involve comparative evaluations of packaging materials without dealing with packaging functions. Although recent studies highlight the need for such an approach, there is a lack of related studies for specific food packaging applications. This study uses a function-driven approach tailored to a specific example of yoghurt packaging to define the functional unit. Key mechanical and barrier functions of yoghurt packaging are expressed and quantified in terms of function-driven parameters based on strength, bending stiffness, oxygen barrier and water vapor barrier of the packaging material. The approach uses the cradle to gate non-renewable energy use and greenhouse gas emissions of the packaging material to exemplify the application of defined function-driven parameters as a basis of comparison for the early phase of packaging development. Finally, the relevance of the function-driven approach for packaging design and development is discussed in context of an early stage material selection framework.