Sustainability governance and contested plastic food packaging: An integrative review

Henna Sundqvist-Andberg (Corresponding Author), Maria Åkerman

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview Articlepeer-review

    62 Citations (Scopus)
    118 Downloads (Pure)


    Based on an integrative literature review, this article investigates the reasons for the difficulties in governing sustainability of plastic food packaging. By integrating the results from different disciplinary fields, ranging from material sciences to behavioural and social sciences, the article sheds light on the contestations between different sustainability goals and interests that relate to food packaging and it shows that there are trade-offs between them. With an in-depth analysis of the sustainability issues related to different phases of the life cycle of plastic food packages, the article identifies how the attempts to govern individual sustainability problems as part of circular economy policies create tensions with other sustainability issues. The analysis shows that while the circular economy covers the entire life cycle of a food package, the beginning and the end of the life cycle have gained the most attention and only limited number of policy measures focus on the consumption phase. As a conclusion, we claim that the different functions of plastic food packaging need to be acknowledged better in environmental policy design.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number127111
    JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
    Publication statusPublished - 15 Jul 2021
    MoE publication typeA2 Review article in a scientific journal


    • Food packaging
    • plastic
    • sustainability governance
    • circular economy
    • integrative review


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