Natural Resources Institute Finland develops alternative materials and an environmental sustainability SCORE-indicator for food packaging

Execution time 2023-2029

Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke) is developing alternative solutions for food packaging and agricultural plastics. In addition, Luke is developing an environmental sustainability SCORE indicator for food packaging, which enables a comprehensive comparison of the environmental impacts of packaging.

Bio-based side streams for practical use

Packaging is required to be environmentally friendly, durable and functional during storage, transport and distribution. Luke has been exploring new packaging material solutions. New, technically functional bio-based packaging materials and solutions, as well as their recyclability and biodegradability, are now being examined in cooperation with other operators in the PlastLIFE project.

Various biomass side streams, including their fibres, can be utilised in packaging materials. We are going to find out whether the selected material can replace the plastic packaging in use.

We will also explore the possibility of industrial manufacturing of the materials that are found to be the best substitutes for fossil-based plastics in the tests and that are recyclable and/or biodegradable.

In addition to packaging materials, we are developing an alternative to agricultural mulch films based on bio-based materials, such as side streams from the paper industry and pyrolysis processes, and will produce training material on the subject.

We will also produce training and communication materials on the sustainable use of agricultural plastics, on the risks caused by plastics in farmland and the environment and on the options for replacing and recycling agricultural plastics.

A reliable indicator for comparing the environmental sustainability of packaging

We are developing a science-based environmental indicator, Packaging Sustainability SCORE, that comprehensively sheds light on the environmental impacts of food packaging. Our goal is to build a standardised set of indicators that can be used to score the environmental impacts of packaging.

SCORE gives consumers, trade, food and packaging industry companies and authorities a genuine opportunity to compare the environmental sustainability performance of packaging and make choices that reduce the environmental burden.

A key starting point in the development of SCORE is a life cycle-wide environmental footprint assessment. As a new element, the technical performance of the packaging will be taken into account, which means, for example, how packaging can prevent food waste.

The goal is to compile and launch the assessment requirements and guidelines for the environmental life cycle assessment of packaging and packaging systems more detailed than at present. This would make the life cycle environmental impact and carbon footprint assessments of packaging more uniform. DS Smith, HKScan, Metsä Board, Olvi, Orkla, RKW Finland Oy and Wipak are involved in developing SCORE and financing the work.

In addition, we will produce a national estimate of the carbon footprint savings achieved when fossil-based plastics are increasingly replaced by bio-based solutions.

More information on the role of Natural Resources Institute Finland in the PlastLIFE project

  • Senior Scientist Juha-Matti Katajajuuri, Natural Resources Institute Finland, tel. +358 295 326 219,
  • Eila Järvenpää, Natural Resources Institute Finland,
  • Pekka Saranpää, Natural Resources Institute Finland,
  • Ansa Palojärvi, Natural Resources Institute Finland,
  • Marleena Hagner, Natural Resources Institute Finland,
  • Musharof Khan, Natural Resources Institute Finland,
  • Ilkka Leinonen, Natural Resources Institute Finland,


Published 2023-05-17 at 10:46, updated 2023-05-17 at 10:46
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