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Innovative solutions for sustainable food packaging


Proposals should clearly address the problems associated with the scaling-up and commercialisation of eco-innovative solutions to packaging in a developing framework of social, economic and environmental conditions. Activities should aim to produce plans and arrangements or designs for new, modified or improved products, processes or services. For this purpose they may include prototyping, testing, demonstrating, pilot projects, large-scale product validation and market replication. Proposals may, if necessary, include limited research and development activities. If there are clear market failures or cultural or behavioural barriers to overcome, proposals may comprise activities such as validating the benefits for users/buyers, validating technical and economic performance at system level, validating standards, and activities to prepare market uptake, ensure consumer acceptance and optimise access to and the dissemination of results. Work is expected to benefit from contribution of social sciences and a gender approach. Participation of all relevant stakeholders in the food production and supply chains is encouraged. Demonstration activities will require the involvement of packaging and food processing companies, retailers and civil society organisations to bridge the gap between ideas that have been developed and their practical implementation.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of up to EUR 6 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude the submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

In recent decades, there has been much research into innovative food packaging technologies and solutions (e.g. active, intelligent, recyclable, easy-to-use, organic, antibacterial). This includes research aimed at reducing the environmental footprint of packaging material, increasing the shelf-life of food and developing food spoilage indicators, improving product design, optimising process efficiency, and reducing the need for chemical preservatives while maintaining the nutritional and sensorial properties of food. In spite of the progress made, much remains to be done to overcome the barriers to market uptake of many promising technologies.

With a view to supporting the transition from a linear to a circular economy, proposals should show how some, or all, of the following impacts will be achieved:

  • wider and faster deployment of innovative, user-driven, packaging solutions resulting from greater industry and consumer acceptance, and higher visibility of innovative solutions, overcoming the barriers to market uptake.
  • reduced waste in both food and packaging materials, and its negative impacts on the environment (e.g. resource utilisation, greenhouse gas emissions, pollution).
  • strengthening of the EU's position in manufacturing, improving competitiveness as well as opportunities for growth, diversification and job creation for the EU food and packaging sector in general, and SMEs in particular.
  • strengthening the European food value chain through continued support to product quality, contributing to consumer trust and increased consumption.
  • support for the transition from a linear to a circular economy.