Huhtamaki welcomes new scientific evidence on the real environmental impact of single-use packaging vs. reusable tableware in a recently published Life Cycle Assessment


Huhtamaki welcomes new scientific evidence on the real environmental impact of single-use packaging vs. reusable tableware in a recently published Life Cycle Assessment

According to the recently published comprehensive Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) study, paper-based single-use products provide significant key environmental advantages when compared to reusable tableware for in-store dining in Quick Service Restaurants (QSR). These advantages are primarily driven by the carbon emissions related to the amount of energy required to wash the tableware as well as the amount of freshwater used in the washing process in a multi-use system.

A recent study conducted by Ramboll, a leading global engineering, design and consultancy company and certified by TÜV, one of the world’s leading testing service providers, compares the environmental impact of paper-based single-use packaging to that of reusable tableware in an in-store dining setting in Quick Service Restaurants in Europe. The full environmental impact was scientifically measured for both applications across multiple criteria and scenarios. Importantly, the results showed that:

  • For climate change, the single-use system shows very significant benefits. In fact, in the baseline scenario, the polypropylene-based multi-use system was responsible for generating 2.7 times more CO2-e emissions than the paper-based single-use system. The single main contributor to climate change impact in the multi-use baseline scenario is the electricity demand of the washing process. Overall, the use phase accounts for 83% of the total aggregated impact. 
  • For Freshwater Consumption, there are also very significant environmental benefits to the single-use system. The multi-use system used 3.6 times the amount of freshwater in the baseline scenario. 

“The environmental impact of energy and water required for washing in a multi-use system demonstrates that reusable packaging is not the solution for the foodservice industry. Particularly from a climate change perspective paper-based single-use packaging results in a lower environmental impact. Ramboll’s LCA provides scientific evidence which policymakers must welcome as they aim to develop regulation that is good for the planet and has no unintended consequences,“ says Charles Héaulmé, President and CEO of Huhtamaki.

“Climate impact and freshwater consumption are considered the two most critical environmental impact categories today. Due to the urgency of mitigating climate change we believe there is a need to have a fact-based understanding on which activities contribute to climate impact and how they can be minimized effectively and immediately. Water stress is also an issue of growing global importance, with an increasing number of geographies facing freshwater supply issues today. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance that policy decisions adopted today take into account both carbon emissions and freshwater consumption, and that all industries and sectors review how they can mitigate their impact. For example, at Huhtamaki we are actively working to minimize our carbon footprint, setting a Science Based Target, and we are currently assessing water management plans across all our operations,” adds Thomasine Kamerling, Executive Vice President Sustainability and Communications.

Charles Héaulmé continues: “We recognize that there are still gaps in the circularity of packaging that need to be addressed. At Huhtamaki, we continue to work pro-actively on developing sustainable packaging solutions in line with our 2030 Strategy. We believe that investments in waste management infrastructure are needed to further increase the recycling rates of paper-based packaging, which will further reduce their climate impact. We must also find ways to address anti-social littering, potentially via incentivization mechanisms, to support positive consumer behavior.”

In addition to climate impact and freshwater consumption, the LCA study measured environmental impact in the following categories: fossil depletion, particle pollution, terrestrial acidification, freshwater eutrophication, ionizing radiation, metal depletion and stratospheric ozone depletion. Further categories where single-use packaging provided environmental advantages compared to a multi-use system were fossil depletion, particle pollution and terrestrial acidification. A summary of the Life Cycle Assessment is available from EPPA at

For further information:
Katariina Hietaranta, Head of Media Relations, tel. +358 10 686 7863

Global Communications

About Huhtamaki:
Huhtamaki is a key global provider of sustainable packaging solutions for consumers around the world, enabling wellbeing and convenience. Our innovative products protect on-the-go and on-the-shelf food and beverages, ensuring hygiene and safety, and help prevent food waste. We embed sustainability in everything we do. We are committed to achieving carbon neutral production and designing all our products to be recyclable, compostable or reusable by 2030.

We are a participant in the UN Global Compact and as of 2020, we received an MSCI ESG Rating of A, on a scale of AAA ─ CCC. To play our part in managing climate change, we have committed to set science-based targets through the Science Based Targets initiative. Huhtamaki has been awarded the Silver medal by EcoVadis for performance in sustainability.

With 100 years of history and a strong Nordic heritage we operate in 36 countries and 81 sites around the world. Our values Care Dare Deliver guide our decisions and help our team of 18,600 employees make a difference where it matters. Our 2019 net sales totaled EUR 3.4 billion. Huhtamaki Group is headquartered in Espoo, Finland and our parent company, Huhtamäki Oyj, is listed on Nasdaq Helsinki Ltd. Find out more about how we are protecting food, people and the planet on

Life cycle impact assessment results of the baseline comparison of the single-use and multiple-use systems.

ReCiPe 2016 (H) IndicatorSingle-use system - Baseline ScenarioMultiple-use system - Baseline Scenario 
Climate change, default, excl. biogenic carbon [kg CO2 eq.]900824954 
Fine Particulate Matter Formation [kg PM2.5 eq.]5.212.2 
Fossil depletion [kg oil eq.]28279565 
Freshwater Consumption [m3]61224 
Freshwater Eutrophication [kg P eq.]2.90.6 
Ionizing Radiation [kBq Co-60 eq. to air]21101323 
Metal depletion [kg Cu eq.]5549 
Stratospheric Ozone Depletion [kg CFC-11 eq.]0.0100.009 
Terrestrial Acidification [kg SO2 eq.]2339 

Source: European Paper Packaging Alliance