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Reusable vs Single-Use Packaging: A Review of Environmental Impacts

Political and public interest in the potential of reusable packaging to improve how we manage our resources is growing steadily around the world. Life cycle analysis (LCA) is often used to measure what positive or negative impact this packaging would have, both economically and environmentally.

Our study, undertaken by the University of Utrecht, analyses the results of 32 LCAs, directly comparing the impact of single-use packaging and the reusable alternatives, including beverage packaging, carrier bags, food containers and transport packaging.

The results provide a clearer understanding of what conditions need to be met for reusable packaging to be the best choice and make a range of recommendations for governments to consider.

Executive Summary [Download]

Full report [Download]

Policy briefing [Download]

Infographic [Download]

Report author: University of Utrecht

Supported by: Reloop, Zero Waste Europe and Break Free From Plastic

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