Drivers, opportunities and barriers for a retailer in the pursuit of more sustainable packaging redesign

Jorge Ubirajara Gustavo Jr, Giancarlo Medeiros Pereira, Alan James Bond, Claudia Viviane Viegas, Miriam Borchardt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

69 Citations (Scopus)
25 Downloads (Pure)


Redesign can reduce the environmental impact generated by product packaging. The literature presents the elements to be observed in a packaging redesign, as well as the important role of the retailer in delivering more sustainable outcomes through consideration of product packaging. However, the literature is almost silent on the motivations, opportunities and barriers faced by the retailers that try to improve the packaging of the items sold in their stores. To fill this gap, a case study approach was adopted which investigated a global supermarket chain through interviews with senior management and participant observation. Findings suggest that the greatest motivation to the packaging redesign seems to be the economic gains (for the supermarket and its suppliers), which co-generate environmental gains. The opportunities include the adjustment of the packaging size or type. Sizes could be increased when consumers buy more than one package during a single visit to the supermarket, or reduced when consumers discard part of a perishable product without consuming it (due to over-large packaging). Barriers result from commercial uncertainties associated with: how the new packaging will affect the sales of other items? How the new design will influence the number of times that a consumer visits the supermarket? And how the new design will affect the amount of money spent by the consumer on each visit? Further studies could investigate: how to mitigate these uncertainties? How to leverage sustainability based on the economic focus? How to identify redesign opportunities among thousands of sold items? And how to better convince the suppliers that reject the supermarket proposals? The understanding developed from the case study has facilitated the derivation of a number of propositions aiming to leverage sustainability gains from packaging redesign in practice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)18-28
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
Early online date20 Mar 2018
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jun 2018


  • Packaging redesign
  • sustainable packaging
  • sustainable production
  • sustainable consumption
  • retail
  • supply chain
  • supermarket

Cite this