Scagnetti, Carla; Lorenz, Manuel; Albrecht, Stefan

The use of packaging and the environmental consequences related to it are increasingly under discussion. Despite its advantages, packaging has become the focus of public concerns, mainly due to insufficient or inadequate handling of packaging waste. There is plenty of research regarding the sustainability of packaging options, however the most important characteristics have never been combined into a single indicator. The developed Packaging-Index (PIX) offers consumers and companies a tool to evaluate and compare different packaging options. To achieve these goals, the evaluation criteria for the PIX are (1) packaging quantity, (2) recyclability, and (3) environmental footprint. The resulting assessment is displayed as the best to worst-case scenario, with a single score for simple comparison. Using life cycle thinking, the environmental footprint of the packaging is accounted from cradle-to-gate, from resource extraction to the point of sale in retail. The proposed visualization of the PIX represents a practical comparison of diverse packaging alternatives within a product group. In the present case study, the PIX serves as an instrument to compare available packaging found commonly in German retail. The present study also shows that the PIX can be used to analyze the packaging value chain from diverse industries. The application on the whole value chain ensures the assessment of primary packaging (e.g. product packaging) as well as secondary and tertiary packaging. This extends the usability of the PIX from external communication (such as customer relation) to other fields for example internal supply chain optimization.