Research

The Center’s research program is robust with activities reaching across the packaging supply chain. Focus areas are listed below in more detail.

Center for Packaging Innovation and Sustainability Research Agenda

Role of Packaging in Promoting Sustainability.

  • Develop improved metrics to quantify and enhance the influence of packaging on sustainability.  For example, shelf life, improving food access and security, reduction of waste, carbon footprint or water usage, improved recyclability or biodegradability, etc.
  • Develop research-based strategy for effective communication related to the value of packaging in sustainability.

Innovation for Improved Sustainability

  • Identify and evaluate sustainable feedstocks for conventional and novel packaging materials, focusing on bio-based and renewable systems.
  • Compare the sustainability of bio-derived versus conventional polymer feedstocks.
  • Reduce the cost and improve the performance of biomaterials.
  • Investigate the effects of changes in supply chain to improve packaging sustainability. 
  • Improve sustainability through innovative design of packaging.  For example, reduced material usage, novel form and structural design, etc.

Integrated end of life solutions:

  • Develop improved understanding of the solid waste and material recovery systems from both technological and economic viewpoints so improvements can be instituted.  
  • Develop strategies and technologies that will reduce the amount of packaging materials in the solid waste stream.
  • Develop collection strategies that will increase the recovery of plastic reaching the marine environment.
  • Model economies of single versus mixed stream recovery technologies.
  • Develop new and/or improve current technologies which improve the recovery of materials from the waste stream including processing and new applications.  Such as: develop a baseline understanding of collection systems including impediments and economics for recovery.
  • Develop strategies to change consumer behavior related to recycling of packaging materials.

Improving Lifecycle assessment methodology for validating sustainability of packaging systems:

  • Developing better inventories for packaging life cycle assessments.
  • Increasing the transparency of LCA including limitations of LCA analyses.
  • Improving assessment methods for water usage, land usage, consumption and quality.
  • Developing LCA methodology for assessing bio-based packaging.
  • Development methodologies to evaluate returnable versus single use bulk systems.

Enhancing the safety of packaging

  • Develop methodology to predict emerging packaging safety issues.
  • Develop a data base capable of predicting the endocrine activity of known and unknown packaging migrants
  • Develop a method to predict the potential toxicity of packaging migrants
  • Develop a risk assessment and reduction tool for packaging
  • Determining science-based needs related to packaging safety and risk issues.