Food Packaging Prize

Our upcoming Food Packaging Prize will identify and accelerate the next generation of sustainable packaging materials and technologies to reduce food waste and increase food availability.

Program Contact

Lucyna Kurtyka, M.S.

Development Contact

Dr. Kashyap Choksi

Prize Timetable

We anticipate publicly launching the Prize in 2021.

Our public-private partnership model matches every federal dollar with a private dollar. We have committed up to $3 million to this initiative and will launch the Prize when matching funds are secured.

Prize Plan

A Prize of $4 million will be awarded to the firm, group or individual who successfully develops packaging materials and/or technology that meets the highest sustainability, food safety and food quality criteria, as determined by Prize partners.

The Prize will be awarded in two phases:

Phase I, Seed Funding, will award up to $300,000 each in research awards to the four to five applicants with the most promising research proposals.

Phase II, Prize Money, will award $4 million to the proposal that meets the criteria outlined by program partners.


Any US or international public or private institution, consortium, non-profit organization, for-profit company, tribal government entity or any combination of the above who has an existing, clear proof of concept is eligible to apply.

About the Food Packaging Prize

Packaging should protect and extend the life of food, making sure it arrives to stores and homes fresh and intact. When packaging fails, two sources of waste are created – the food and the packaging.

Inadequate packaging is responsible for up to 25 percent of household food waste. Some of this waste is due to food spoiling in poorly designed packaging and bulk packaging that does not allow for the timely consumption of fresh foods.

The major problem with packaging, particularly plastic packaging, is that it is not biodegradable. Plastic packaging is often only used once and rarely recycled. The World Economic Forum indicates that 95 percent of plastic packaging material’s value, about $80 billion–$120 billion annually, is lost to the economy after the first use and only 14 percent of plastic packaging is collected for recycling. The remaining amount ends up polluting land and seas.

In addition to packaging waste, food waste is the single largest component of disposed municipal solid waste in the US, according to the US Department of Agriculture. This food waste then emits methane. The Environmental Protection Agency notes that landfills are responsible for 20 percent of total US methane emissions. Improved packaging that reduces food waste can reduce methane emissions and mitigate climate change.

This Prize aims to address packaging and food waste and the environmental impacts of both, through a single initiative.

Prize Partners & Benefits

Prize Partners

This initiative requires collaboration among leading packaging experts, researchers, food producers, food processors, distributors, retailers, manufacturers, funders, nonprofits and other key stakeholders.

We are looking for organizations to join the Executive Committee and the Advisory Committee, as well as pilot partners and will be filling these committees in the upcoming months:

  • Executive Committee

Funding partners who determine the Prize criteria, review technical evaluations and select proposals for Phases I and II.

  • Advisory Committee

Advises the Executive Committee on the Prize criteria, provides technical evaluations and participates in proposal discussions. Consists of packaging experts representing food producers, food processors, food manufacturers, distributors, food retail businesses, academia, government and professional organizations.

  • Pilot Partners

Food businesses willing to participate in pilots with Seed Funding recipients following the announcement of research awards. Consists of grocery retailers with private label line, manufacturers with branded lines, packaging suppliers, food processing facilities, etc. Scope of each pilot will be determined by each food business.

Partnership Benefits

The benefits of collaborating with us include:

  • We double all partner contributions, up to a total of $3 million and de-risk individual investments by dividing overall Prize amount among several partners.
  • Direct input on determining the scope of the Prize, shaping evaluation criteria and determining Prize winner(s).
  • Exclusive access to research results from Seed Funding and Prize awardees.
  • Recognition for corporate social responsibility benefiting brand image and credibility.
  • First-mover advantage and increased consumer loyalty for providing higher quality products that meet the highest sustainability criteria.
  • Contributing to your business’ sustainability goals ahead of emerging policy regulations. growing consumer awareness and gaining wide media attention and coverage.
  • Your contribution may be tax deductible.


Funding Partners

The Kroger Co. Zero Hunger | Zero Waste Foundation is a founding member of the Executive Committee

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