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Sustainable Products and Packaging

Theme 1: Sustainable Products and Services

This research area aims to develop projects, frameworks, tools and inform policy in delivering sustainable products and services, both locally and internationally. Significant gaps have been identified within industry and business in both the understanding and application of sustainability principles regarding product and service development and procurement. Questions remain why industry and government are lagging in this area (for those who both define and design the outputs), and what the best ways are to educate and deliver methodology to make sustainable products and services prevalent within business process. Disciplines relevant to this area of research include:

  • Industrial/ fashion/ product/ service design
  • Engineering and innovation
  • Business and marketing
  • Environmental and sustainability

The Sustainable Products and Services research area sits under the broad umbrella of sustainability with the following key areas of focus:

  • Theme 1: Technology innovation and Whole Systems Design (WSD)
  • Theme 2: LCA integration within the design process and other business units
  • Theme 3: ‘Design Thinking’ sustainability projects
  • Theme 4: Consumer behaviour and marketing aspects of products and services
Theme 2: Packaging Sustainability

This research area disseminates the principles and practices of packaging sustainability. As an increasing number of companies respond to market pressures to develop more sustainable packaging systems, there is a growing need within these companies to embed packaging sustainability within the corporate strategy. Furthermore government agencies and departments and industry associations are grappling with ways to ensure polices and frameworks meet with the ever-higher demands of incorporating sustainability within packaging supply chain issues. The Packaging Sustainability research area will continue its long standing involvement in the dissemination of life cycle understanding of the impacts of packaging materials, the development of packaging policy and decision support tools, deployment of life cycle assessment approaches within the packaging supply chain and broaden its approach to include consumer behaviour, marketing and environmental accounting.

The Packaging Sustainability research area sits under the broad umbrella of sustainability with the following key areas of focus:

  • Theme 1: Packaging sustainability strategic development
  • Theme 1: Embedding decision support tools into new product development processes
  • Theme 3: Consumer behaviour and marketing
  • Theme 4: Understanding life cycle impacts of both the product and packaging system
Theme 3: Food Systems

This research area is aimed at reducing Australians ecological footprint associated with food. Food is responsible for 49% of an individual’s ecological footprint, and annually Australian households waste 5 billion worth of food. There is potential to reduce an individual’s ecological footprint through improved production, reduced food waste and revised diets, which will increase food security in a climate changed future. This approach draws upon:

  • Lifecycle thinking to understand food related impacts
  • Design of food packaging, storage and preparation artefacts that assist to hold our current food practices in place
  • Practice theory to understand everyday household practices and the cultural meaning of food

The Food Systems research area sits under the broad umbrella of sustainability with the following key areas of focus:

  • Theme 1: Diet and Nutrition for a sustainable future
  • Theme 2: Reducing food waste
  • Theme 3: Ethical consumption

Life Cycle Assessment (LCA)

Theme 1: Built environment

Existing residential, commercial and institutional buildings use significant quantities of energy, which contributes to a significant proportion of Australia’s environmental impacts. LCA forms the basis for evaluating building impacts across the stages of pre-design, design, construction, occupancy (including reuse and retrofits) and end-of-life, and allows for the quantified evaluation of strategies to reduce environmental impact.

Theme 2: Integration of LCA and life-cycle thinking into management systems

Life cycle management integrates aspects of LCA and life-cycle thinking into management systems to allow for more-informed environmental or sustainability decisions. This emerging field allows for companies to utilise, often complex, LCA studies to achieve ongoing environmental improvement.

Theme 3: Water and energy systems

Increasing demand for energy and water resources has driven the need for new technology in water (e.g. desalination) and energy (e.g. fuel cells and biofuels) systems. LCA is utilised to asses and evaluate the environmental performance of these systems, to ensure that sound environmental decisions are made and opportunities for improvement are identified.