All studies at a glance

The figures on how much food in Germany ends up unused in waste fluctuate between 20 million tonnes per year (Source: Film Taste the Waste) and 300,000 tonnes (source: European Retail Institute). It is undisputed that these losses must be reduced urgently. To address the problem, however, reliable data on the situation is required.

For this purpose, the Stiftung Initiative Mehrweg Initiative commissioned the Fraunhofer Institute for Material Flow and Logistics to examine the influence of packaging on the safe transport of fruit and vegetables. The study came to the conclusion that the packaging breakage of cardboard boxes (4.2%) is 35 times higher than that of reusable crates (0.12%).

The main objective of the study was to quantify the greenhouse gas emissions of the reusable, collapsible plastic containers and the disposable cardboard containers and to subsequently compare them. To achieve the main objective, processes along the entire value chain of both packaging systems were considered, based on their actual transport performance in Germany, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands and France.

The study “Sustainability of packaging systems for fruit and vegetable transport in Europe – based on a life cycle analysis” was commissioned by the SIM in 2009 and carried out by the Institut für ganzheitliche Bilanzierung, which is affiliated to the Fraunhofer Institut für Bauphysik and the University of Stuttgart.

The study came to the conclusion that the plastic-based reusable system is ecologically superior to the disposable carton system. Moreover, the reusable system proves to be the most economical.