Operational environment review for reusable packaging used in fast moving consumer goods: 4everPack

Anna Tenhunen-Lunkka, Jussi H. Lahtinen, Liisa Hakola, Rosa Palmgren, Henna Sundqvist, Angelos Balatsas Lekkas, Mouazan Erwan, Harri Luomala, Kyösti Pennanen

Research output: Book/ReportReport


There are many requirements for good packaging - it needs to protect the product and enable a sufficient shelf life. However, over the recent years the demand for more environmentally friendly packaging has been increasing and many public and private stakeholders have reacted by starting to investigate and implement reusable packaging systems to mitigate the environmental effects and meet the public demands. Additionally,regulations have started to move towards supporting reuse with set targets.

Consumer engagement is critical to ensure success for businesses dealing with reusable packaging of fast-moving consumer goods (FMCGs). Some knowledge of consumers' views on reusable packaging and reusable containers exists, but the domain is still in its nascency. Overall, consumers hold somewhat positive perceptions and attitudes toward reusable packaging. However, concerns by consumers over several issues (e.g. convenience, quality, and pricing), confusion between recycling and reuse, negative attitudes toward certain solutions and low willingness to return and refill packages have been observed.

Well-performing business models are crucial to scale up reuse systems. Despite the growing interest of the private sector in the circular economy, the implementation of circular business models is still low in practice. Today, only very few products with reusable packaging are available in the FMCG industry, although a portfolio of new reusable packaging business models is emerging. Different barriers and success factors can be identified. For instance, reuse may be perceived as not allowed, unsafe, not sustainable, or not economically feasible. It is important to establish that there is no inhibiting regulation for reuse. However, a mix of policies and instruments is needed to support and incentivise establishing reuse systems on a large scale.

Safety is an integral aspect that need to be managed, it can also be facilitated by material and packaging design. In reuse cases, packaging faces requirements from both the product side and the system, which includes reverse logistics, reuse-related operations and maintenance, possibly intelligent elements such as sensors, and communication and marketing needs. The materials used today in single-use packaging are seen also in reuse applications, and the materials are not the main hindering factor in setting up reuse systems. However, the number of cycles the packaging can withstand is an important factor for the overall feasibility.

All circular solutions need their own reverse supply chains to enable circularity. The lacking infrastructure for collection logistics and washing solutions pose challenges for the uptake of reusable packaging, there are a lack of active operators in the field on a larger scale. To facilitate the reverse logistics and packaging monitoring, tagging technologies are available to allow connectivity to digital traceability platforms. Important digital platform features include access to data, data management, dynamic data, and data security. Tags and data can offer additional services for product safety and consumer engagement.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherVTT Technical Research Centre of Finland
Number of pages95
ISBN (Electronic)978-951-38-8777-3
Publication statusPublished - 2023
MoE publication typeD4 Published development or research report or study

Publication series

SeriesVTT Technology


  • reusable packaging
  • reuse
  • fast moving consumer goods
  • circular economy
  • packaging wastes
  • single-use packaging
  • packaging


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