Today’s intersection of packaging and food waste
In the US, 37% of food waste takes place in the home, and another 28% occurs in consumer-facing businesses such as foodservice and retail (ReFED). Addressing this food waste is a key solution for tackling climate change (Project Drawdown).
Packaging and food waste are often thought of as binary choices for a brand- either you use packaging and prevent food waste, or you don’t use packaging and create food waste. At the same time, consumers want less packaged food and aren’t familiar with how packaging might be preventing food waste.
In tackling food waste, packaging design is the seventh most effective strategy in terms of climate impact potential, with the potential to reduce emissions by 3.57 metric tons CO2e each year. Active and intelligent packaging was another top strategy for preventing food waste. Yet most manufacturers and brands aren’t actively designing or optimizing packaging to reduce food waste. Many either focus exclusively on the recoverability of their packaging, or assume their packaging already performs well in preventing food waste.
The result is that there is a significant opportunity to improve packaging design and the broader product-packaging system to reduce food waste in homes and businesses.
This challenge aims to foster new design and innovation for primary food packaging that will help prevent food waste while raising awareness about packaging’s role in food waste.
We are seeking proposed solutions from early and growth-stage innovators in two categories:
- Packaging design optimization, such as improvements to product evacuation, functionality, resealability and closures, pack sizes, and/or ease of use
- Technology-based innovations, such as coatings, sensors, inserts/sachets/packets, and/or active packaging
Examples of packaging formats and categories that are ripe for innovation and redesign include:
- Prepared produce packaging such as salad mixes (particularly around spoilage prevention and resealability)
- Cheese packaging (particularly around closure designs and at-home storage)
- Berry packaging (particularly around damage and spoilage prevention)
- Meat and protein packaging (particularly around pack sizes, resealability, and product safety)
Solutions should consider how their optimized packaging design or innovation will perform and reduce food waste at key points in the supply chain, including:
- Retail handling: How might packaging protect food and prevent waste as items are being stocked, unpacked, displayed, and handled by personnel in store?
- Consumer selection and purchase: How might packaging help to display contents and encourage portion control when consumers are selecting products for purchase?
- Consumer storage and use: How might packaging help to communicate freshness, provide additional storage and use functionality in consumers’ homes, and encourage behavior change to reduce food waste?
Entrepreneurs and early stage innovators are welcome to apply. Submissions that are at a post-research, pre-commercialization technology readiness level (TRL) of 3-8 will be prioritized.
This Challenge will select the most promising innovations in packaging designs and materials that prevent food waste in businesses and homes and embody excellence in the following sustainable packaging pillars:
- Reduction of food waste through improved performance of the packaging and its contents in the retail environment and/or in consumers’ homes
- Overall life cycle environmental impacts of the package or package system:
- Responsible sourcing, e.g. use of recycled materials or responsibly sourced, renewable materials
- Optimized and efficient use of materials
- Recoverability: e.g. recyclability, reusability or compostability.
- Retailer performance, including how the solution integrates into retailer environments and performs during stocking, handling, display, and
- Market feasibility, including cost and performance in product protection and food waste prevention
- Product-packaging system innovation, e.g. consumer behavior change and education
Maximum points will be awarded to innovations that perform well across multiple assessment categories.
Access to SPC Advance Audience and Community
The winners of the Challenge will receive access to the SPC community, including:
- Presentation of finalists at SPC Advance 2021 during a dedicated showcase to SPC’s member audience of over 500 brands and packaging suppliers
- The opportunity to present at a special SPC event in December 2021 in NYC for invited brands, retailers, packaging suppliers, and impact investors
- Category winners will receive 1 year of SPC membership, a value of $2,750
Assistance in Refining and Scaling Solution
Selected finalists will be enrolled in our Mentorship program to receive further resources and feedback to iterate and scale their solutions, including:
- Office hours with leading industry retailers, brands, and experts
- Feedback from the Challenge judges, partners and advisors
- Innovator-only resources for understanding the broader system of packaging and food waste, including life cycle assessments, consumer research, and recoverability
Media Coverage and Visibility
- The shortlisted submissions, finalists, and winners of the Challenge will be broadcast to the SPC Community, including through:
- Featured communications in SPC newsletters, website and social media with two dedicated press releases
- Featured communications by SPC’s Challenge Partners
- May 1: Submissions open on Ubuntoo
- June 18: Submission period closes
- July 6: Semi-finalists for Mentorship program announced
- July to September: Mentorship program with project Advisors
- September 14: Virtual Final Pitch Competition (must be available on this date)
- October 5: Semi-finalists broadcast at SPC Advance event
- December 8: Showcase event of winners and finalists in NYC
Summary: An overview of the solution, with visual collateral highly preferred
Detailed description: Applicants will provide a technical overview of their solution. Please do not submit confidential information as part of your application to the Food Waste Repackaged Challenge. Submissions will not be considered confidential. For those Innovators who would prefer to opt out of sharing their submission publicly, and instead have content reviewed only by the growing list of Challenge Partners and a panel of Judges, you may choose to submit a non-publicly viewable solution.
Who will see the information I submit?
All information provided will be reviewed by SPC. Shortlisted submissions will be reviewed by Challenge judges and advisors. Participants should exercise judgment when submitting confidential and/or sensitive intellectual property in their submission. No submitted information will be made publicly visible or shared with other Challenge participants.
Can I request an NDA?
We ask that participants only submit information needed to evaluate their innovation. If confidential information is necessary to evaluate the innovation, either during the initial submission or after submission during the evaluation period, then participants may request to enter non-disclosure agreements (NDA).
Are my intellectual property rights safe?
All information participants choose to submit to the Challenge remains their own IP and there are no requirements or conditions to transfer this knowledge to the SPC, Partners, or other third parties. As stated in the Terms and Conditions, ‘each participant will retain intellectual property ownership—including rights, trademarks, service marks and/or logos—of all of his, her, or its Challenge submission ideas, including, but not limited to, methods, materials, technologies, and other know-how related to the Challenge criteria and technical overview.’ Any further steps between the participating entrepreneurs and companies involved would require a separate agreement between the companies individually.
How will semi-finalists be selected?
Semi-finalists will be selected by Challenge Judges, with input from Challenge Advisors and Partners. For more information, please refer to the Challenge evaluation criteria.
By Sustainable Packaging Coalition