CE.20.008 – Circular Plastic Food Packaging

Route: Circular economy

Cluster question: 052 How can we create a truly circular economy so that industrial goods manufacturing depends less on primary raw materials?

Plastic food packages form an important pillar under our modern urban society but simultaneously create environmental concerns. Especially the leakage of plastic objects into the environment is a threat for eco-systems. It is widely accepted that in order to mitigate these impacts while continuing to enjoy the benefits of plastic packages, a new type of plastic economy needs to be established. Although the contours of ‘the new plastic economy’ are understood, many of its details are unknown, as is the transition path. This research proposal aims to lay a scientific foundation for a circular economy of plastic food packaging, with a multidisciplinary approach. Firstly, it aims to create an improved understanding of contamination processes that occur during the packaging life cycle and to study decontamination processes. Secondly, the impact of design-for-recycling will be modelled on avoiding contamination and hence on improving the purity of recycled plastics. Since options for packaging redesign are limited by marketing considerations and convenience options, this proposal thirdly aims to understand these social and economic trade-offs. Fourthly, also the options that alternative materials and recycling processes offer are explored. The collected knowledge is combined in a detailed description of the circular economy and a transition path.


Circularity, Contamination, Food packaging, Minimal footprint, Plastic recycling, Purity, Quality, Safety, Secondary raw materials, Toxicity, Waste flows


Organisation Wageningen Research (WUR)
Name Ir. C.H. (Christiaan) Bolck
E-mail Christiaan.Bolck@wur.nl
Website https://www.wur.nl/en/Research-Results/Research-Institutes/food-biobased-research/Solutions/From-waste-to-feedstock-for-new-materials.htm