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The tides are turning and more action to reduce the environmental footprint of packaging are taken; yet, innovation implementation remains slow. Information regarding environmental and economic performance trade-offs are often intransparent or even unknown. Environmental and economic analysis of alternative delivery formats are application and location specific, hence, issues such as local food waste, transportation efficiency, and local waste treatment infrastructure are key factors in the performance of such materials. This makes it difficult to derive widely applicable sustainable delivery formats.


Some innovations for alternative delivery formats observed on the market are: 

  • Alternative plastics such as plastics produced from waste, methane or CO2,

  • Experiments with customer owned packaging (currently being tested by EDEKA),

  • Grow groceries in and on stores (trials run by Delhaize),

  • Use of AI and digital technologies to predict product spoilage (currently tested by Walmart).


Despite such efforts, the implementation of sustainable retail innovations for the mass market remains rather slow and rarely adopts an end-to-end approach. Retailers feel the pressure from consumers but generally follow the traditional business model thinking to minimize risks. The complexity and steep investment cost associated with the development of such innovations is often the main barrier for the relatively low margin retail industry.



In the follow-up project, we will systematically identify product categories with the highest optimization potential for effective and efficient implementation. The “Packaging Baseline” forms the basis of this project which is co-financed by Innosuisse. Through detailed analysis of the database, we will target and prioritize product categories with the highest optimization potential to develop a systematic process for packaging innovations. We will carry out innovation challenges with workshops to identify needs and potentials of the most promising product categories. The project will provide further industry transparency and increase consumer awareness for environmental issues, while promoting the development of sustainable delivery formats. Furthermore, it will support Denner to achieve their 2025 target and consider currently conflicting market needs such as convenience and sustainability. 


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