Title: Qualitative analysis of reducing packaging consumption through reusable systems for takeaway containers
Language: English
Authors: Bomhard, Marie-Elisabeth <<von>> 
Qualification level: Diploma
Keywords: takeaway; packaging; consumption; reusable systems; takeaway containers; reduce
takeaway; packaging; consumption; reusable systems; takeaway containers; reduce
Advisor: Fellner, Johann 
Issue Date: 2019
Number of Pages: 91
Qualification level: Diploma
This thesis is a qualitative review of reusable takeaway systems and how they may decrease packaging consumption and so negative environmental effects. First, the thesis introduces plastic, the main material used for both disposable and reusable food packaging. Its benefits and disadvantages, as well as its economic implications are explained. The thesis finds plastic to be a complex set of materials and delves into further details on different types of plastic. The thesis also determines that plastic still has heavy environmental impacts and a high potential for environmental improvement, especially through recycling, and new technologies using alternative feedstocks. Thus, while plastic is a necessary and practical material, action is needed for improved lifecycle management. This has been recognised by governments who have taken legislative action, which is examined by this thesis with a focus on the EU. Because of plastics examined features, this thesis establishes that it is also a practical material for reusable takeaway containers. Hence the thesis examines LCAs, which compare disposable with reusable plastic containers as well as other materials, aluminium, bagasse, and glass. Various LCAs indicate that PP is a sustainable choice for a reusable container system under certain conditions, if the container is reused at least 40 times. The use of local manufacturers, commercial dishwashers and short distribution paths are important factors, too. Overall, findings confirm that indeed a reusable plastic container system is preferable to disposable containers. Finally, the thesis gives an overview of systems and provides case studies of their application. All examined types of systems, where containers are washed on-site or elsewhere, seem viable from an economic, environmental and social perspective. Surprisingly this thesis observes that deposit fees of up to EUR/CHF 10 had no significant negative effect on the system. System success rather depends on how the rate of loss and efficiency is managed through clear definition of the systems area, accountability and distribution mechanisms, incentives, marketing and pricing. It also depends on expected container lifetime (durability) as well as how and where these are produced, washed, monitored, and discarded. Short reuse times are essential, too. The thesis finds that the main cause for longer reuse times are consumers who keep the container instead of returning it. Keeping and washing the container at home is not optimal from an environmental perspective, also as returned containers may have to be rewashed because of sanitation regulations, wasting valuable resources. Outdated and complicated sanitation regulations are one example of a barrier where local government action could substantially help change the situation. Local governments are central to help modify consumer behaviour and decrease waste and litter. This can be achieved through zero waste strategies or charges on disposable container waste, as examples in Canada and Australia have shown and European ones soon will. The EU has led by example extending producer responsibilities but local governments must follow suit, focussing on public waste. Also, regulations on using recycled granulate for food containers must be adjusted to allow closed loop recycling. Overall, societal trends will continue pushing for convenience but also increased environmental awareness. The author believes it is only a matter of time before the takeaway industry mainstreams reusable systems. Vienna has strong potential for a reusable system, especially if it is grown through clusters and the right communities are targeted.
URI: https://resolver.obvsg.at/urn:nbn:at:at-ubtuw:1-132204
Library ID: AC15535302
Organisation: E017 - Continuing Education Center 
Publication Type: Thesis
Appears in Collections:Thesis

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