The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development seeks to halve per capita food waste at retail and consumer levels, as well as to reduce food losses along production and supply chains, including post-harvest losses (SDG target 12.3) (UN, 2015). Achieving this target would have significant implications in the fight against climate change.

According to FAO, food loss and waste account for 8 to 10 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. These changes negatively impact crop yields, can reduce the nutritional quality of food and cause supply chain disruptions (FAO, 2022).

Meanwhile, according to FAO’s State of Food and Agriculture report approximately 14 percent of the world’s food (worth $400 billion a year) continues to be lost after it is harvested and before it reaches stores 8 (FAO, 2019).

In terms of the food loss and waste situation in Spain, 1.3 billion liters and kilograms of food are lost every year, and globally, wasted food production generates 10% of greenhouse gas emissions.

Packaging is a crucial component of the supply chain that has an impact on reducing food loss. FAO states that losses at almost all stages of the food chain can be reduced using appropriate packaging (FAO, 2015). In a report by the American Institute for Packaging and the Environment (AMERIPEN), the authors emphasize the protective role of packaging and mention it as an underutilized solution that could significantly reduce food waste (AMERIPEN, 2018).

According to a study conducted by researchers from the University of Cantabria, the UNESCO Chair in Life Cycle and Climate Change ESCI-UPF, the University of Lleida (UdL) and the University of Santiago de Chile in 2020, the contribution of food loss and waste due to processing and packaging is 7.4% in Spain (Laso et al., 2021).

Innovations in packaging could represent a tool to increase the overall sustainability of food production and reduce food loss and waste by extending shelf life, defined as the period during which the quality of the food product is satisfactory. According to FAO, shelf life varies from short, for example, raspberries and other berries, to those products that are naturally adapted to longer storage periods, such as onions, potatoes, garlic, pumpkins, etc. (FAO, 2004).

In this context, ARECO’s partners are committed to promoting sustainability. Aware of the importance of reducing food waste and its impact on the environment, ARECO has invested in advanced packaging technologies that help extend the shelf life of fruits and vegetables. These improved packaging systems include features such as humidity control, temperature regulation and gas release, which are specifically tailored to the needs of each product.

An example of this is the Reusable Transport Packaging (RPCs) used by its partners, whose design plays a key role in prolonging the life of the product by helping to remove heat from the field more quickly during pre-cooling reaching to extend on average, according to a study conducted by IFCO, up to 4 days the shelf life of the products contained compared to single-use cardboard boxes (Lippert QM, 2018). In some cases, as in the case of mushrooms, the increase in shelf life is even higher, going from 4 days in the cardboard box (when 40% of mushrooms that are no longer edible) to 12 days in reusable plastic crates.

Fig 1: Result of the mushroom shelf life study with different packaging (Lippert QM, 2018).


Overall, the use of RPCs has shown promising potential in reducing food loss and waste along the supply chain. By providing a durable and efficient packaging solution, reusable plastic crates contribute to preserving product quality and freshness, thus minimizing losses and promoting a more sustainable approach to food distribution, in line with SDG compliance.




AECOC (La asociación de fabricantes y distribuidores), 2023, desperdicio-alimentario-antes-del-verano/

AMERIPEN, 2018, Quantifying the Value of Packaging as a Strategy to Prevent Food Waste in America: American Institute for Packaging and the Environment: St. Paul, MN, USA.

FAO (The Food and Agriculture Organization), 2004, Manual for the preparation and sale of fruits and vegetables From field to market, by López Camelo,  FAO AGRICULTURAL SERVICES BULLETIN 151.

FAO (The Food and Agriculture Organization), 2015, Global Initiative on Food loss and Waste Reduction,

FAO (The Food and Agriculture Organization), 2019, Th estate of Food and Agriculture, moving forward on food loss and waste reduction,

FAO (The Food and Agriculture Organization), 2022, Tackling food loss and waste: A triple win opportunity,

Laso, J.; Campos, C.; Fernández-Ríos, A.; Hoehn, D.; del Río, A.; Ruiz-Salmón, I.; Cristobal, J.; Quiñones, A.; Amo-Setién, F.J.; del Carmen Ortego, M.; et al. Looking for Answers to Food Loss and Waste Management in Spain from a Holistic Nutritional and Economic Approach. Sustainability 2021, 13, 125. https://

Lippert QM, Comparison of the ventilation of different IFCO RPCs and its effect on freshness and saleability of different fruits and vegetables. Presented by Dr. Felix Lippert.

UN (United Nations), 2015, Transforming our world, The 2023 agenda for Sustainable Development