Packaging waste prevention in the distribution of fruit and vegetables: An assessment based on the life cycle perspective.
Sommaire de l'article
In recent years, alternative food supply chains based on short distance production and delivery have been promoted as being more environmentally friendly than those applied by the traditional retailing system. An example is the supply of seasonal and possibly locally grown fruit and vegetables directly to customers inside a returnable crate (the so-called 'box scheme'). In addition to other claimed environmental and economic advantages, the box scheme is often listed among the packaging waste prevention measures. To check whether such a claim is soundly based, a life cycle assessment was carried out to verify the real environmental effectiveness of the box scheme in comparison to the Italian traditional distribution. The study focused on two reference products, carrots and apples, which are available in the crate all year round. An experience of a box scheme carried out in Italy was compared with some traditional scenarios where the product is distributed loose or packaged at the large-scale retail trade. The packaging waste generation, 13 impact indicators on environment and human health and energy consumptions were calculated. Results show that the analysed experience of the box scheme, as currently managed, cannot be considered a packaging waste prevention measure when compared with the traditional distribution of fruit and vegetables. The weaknesses of the alternative system were identified and some recommendations were given to improve its environmental performance.