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Drivers, barriers and performance outcomes of sustainable packaging: a systematic literature review

Karima Afif (Department of Agri-Food Economics and Consumer Sciences, Université Laval, Quebec City, Canada)
Claudia Rebolledo (Department of Logistics and Operations Management, HEC Montreal, Montreal, Canada)
Jacques Roy (Department of Logistics and Operations Management, HEC Montreal, Montreal, Canada)

British Food Journal

ISSN: 0007-070X

Article publication date: 23 July 2021

Issue publication date: 8 February 2022

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Abstract

Purpose

This paper presents a comprehensive overview of the cross-disciplinary literature on the drivers, barriers and performance outcomes of sustainable packaging to understand the current state of research in this field and identify research opportunities.

Design/methodology/approach

A systematic review is conducted within no time limit. The Methodi Ordinatio methodology was applied that resulted in retaining 48 relevant and high impact articles published in 26 academic journals with various scopes.

Findings

Seven key drivers are identified and defined: the integrative and collaborative supply chain, environmental capabilities and resources, market-based instruments, cost reduction, consumer pressure, competitive advantage, and regulatory pressure. Three main barriers are identified and defined: cost/benefit ambiguity, additional costs and complex trade-offs between packaging requirements. The review shows that the drivers and barriers to packaging sustainability are contingent on the firm size. Sustainable packaging positively affects the environmental, social and economic performance; however, its operational performance requires a proactive and integrated supply chain. The results highlight the importance of integrated packaging decisions at three different levels to improve packaging sustainability: vertical and horizontal integration, upstream and downstream integration, and product-packaging integration. The authors developed research propositions and provided insightful directions for future research.

Originality/value

Most studies focus on specific drivers, barriers and outcomes of sustainable packaging, while this paper brings them together to build a comprehensive framework. The latter provides a deeper understanding of the factors that incentivize or deter firms from pursuing sustainable packaging and its performance outcomes.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank the anonymous reviewers and the editor of British Food Journal for their valuable suggestions and comments on earlier drafts on this paper.

Funding: Doctoral Fellowships, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), Grant Number/Ref. CRSH: 752-2020-1649. Insight Development Grants, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC).

Citation

Afif, K., Rebolledo, C. and Roy, J. (2022), "Drivers, barriers and performance outcomes of sustainable packaging: a systematic literature review", British Food Journal, Vol. 124 No. 3, pp. 915-935. https://doi.org/10.1108/BFJ-02-2021-0150

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2021, Emerald Publishing Limited

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