New Version of Understanding Packaging Scorecard Helps Food Companies Purchase Safer, Sustainable Food Packaging

November 28, 2023
Nika Beauchamp, (617) 448-3883,



Available contacts for inquiries:

Nika Beauchamp,, +1 617 448 3883

Etienne Cabane,, +41 44 515 52 55

Erica Cirino,, +1 323 936 3010 x1 

Johanna Anderson,, +1 202 607 2600


New Version of Understanding Packaging Scorecard Helps Food Companies Purchase Safer, Sustainable Food Packaging

New version of the Understanding Packaging Scorecard tool incorporates critical context for procurement professionals seeking more sustainable food packaging

(ZURICH, Switzerland - November 28, 2023) The Understanding Packaging (UP) Scorecard, a free science-based online tool to help food companies select foodware and food packaging that is safe and environmentally sustainable, has released an updated version that improves its scoring system for chemicals of concern and allows users to save and score portfolios representing entire business units. These changes optimize the process for foodservice companies seeking the best choices for sustainable food packaging.

The scoring system update enhances the granularity and usefulness of the tool in assessing the health impacts of different packaging materials, because it considers the packaging material in the context of food temperature, fat content, acidity, and other categories. Some chemicals of concern migrate into food at higher temperatures or are attracted to fats, for example, which means the UP Scorecard would give a lower score to packaging containing those chemicals if it will be used to hold hot or high-fat foods. For example, a paper container lined with chemicals of concern intended to hold hot pizza would receive a lower score than if it was intended for a cold salad, because chemicals migrate more easily into food at higher temperatures.

“Environmental Defense Fund is a proud partner on this effort to help procurement professionals find win-wins to meet health and sustainability goals while also meeting consumers’ growing expectations for toxic-free food packaging,” said Cassie Huang, Project Manager, Safer Chemicals, EDF+Business. “This latest version with saveable user portfolios is a game-changer for foodservice teams looking for a streamlined process when making sustainable purchasing decisions.”

“Health effects related to the toxicity of chemicals present in packaging materials are not yet included in operational life-cycle assessment (LCA) methods and hence not yet widely adopted in LCA studies. While we wait for the development of new quantitative indicators addressing such impacts, we need to rely on science-based qualitative indicators. With the further development of its chemicals of concerns metric, the new version of the UP Scorecard does exactly just this: providing easy access to important data necessary to consider the potential health impacts of a wide range of foodware and packaging options,” said Etienne Cabane, Scientific Officer and UP Scorecard Lead at the Food Packaging Forum.

“Making single use packaging more sustainable is incredibly complex with trade-offs between each material type. In co-creating the UP Scorecard, we recognized the opportunity to bring the voice and insights of our operators who use the tool in making purchasing decisions. Our goal was to develop a tool that is easy-to-use and can be integrated in our daily procurement and client conversations and quickly scale with clients who can make the highest impact. The UP Scorecard does just that,” said Marissa Golison, Director of Sustainability for Compass Group USA.

“Plastic Pollution Coalition is excited to be involved in the creation of this free and useful resource for making informed plastic-free food packaging decisions. The UP Scorecard’s latest developments keep this important tool up-to-date with cutting-edge scientific understanding of how plastic packaging and its chemicals impact human and planetary health. We look forward to continuing to improve the platform to best serve users,” said Dianna Cohen, CEO and Co-Founder, Plastic Pollution Coalition. 

“Large institutional purchasers have the power to transform the marketplace. But determining which products are truly sustainable can be a challenge for busy procurement professionals with many priorities to balance. The UP Scorecard helps purchasers efficiently evaluate different foodware and packaging material types across six sustainability attributes, allowing each purchaser to select the material types that best align with their sustainability priorities - whether their focus is eliminating single-use plastic, reducing climate impact, or minimizing exposure to chemicals of concern. Tools like this are exactly what procurement professionals need to integrate sustainability into their daily work,” said Johanna Anderson, Director of Learning and Member Engagement, Sustainable Purchasing Leadership Council

“Zero Waste Europe is pleased to participate in this exciting project. We count on the UP Scorecard to provide independent, science-based support for takeaway food and drinks packaging in Europe, particularly when it comes to minimizing exposure to chemicals of concern,” said Dorota Napierska, Toxic-free Circular Economy Policy Officer at Zero Waste Europe.

“Sodexo is happy to represent food service operators and procurement teams in the on-going development of the UP Scorecard. The collaboration of stakeholders ensures that the tool provides science-based, decision-making information in a way that is approachable for the user. Sodexo is working to integrate a sustainability metric based on the UP Scorecard to enhance our operational packaging selection guide and make it easier for our teams to navigate the complexities of packaging and identify the most environmentally friendly selections,” said Lara Seng, Senior Manager, Sustainability Field Support for Sodexo.

“From my perspective, the most exciting aspect of the UP Scorecard is that it makes the concern about chemicals of concern visible along other traditional criteria used to evaluate product sustainability,” said Anna Soehl, science and policy consultant at the Green Science and Policy Institute. “My hope is that the UP Scorecard will inspire innovation of inert food contact material options and motivate decision-makers to abandon materials made with harmful chemical classes. This would be a huge win for human and ecological health.”

Additional updates to this version enhance the user experience: Users can open accounts to manage tool preferences, save an infinite number of customized products and portfolios for continued work at a later stage, and share their projects with others. With the creation of user accounts, users now have the ability to create portfolios comprised of multiple products to represent entire business units, such as restaurants or cafeterias, which are then scored as a whole. Furthermore, the tool now uses a benchmarking system that allows comparison between portfolios.

Background on the UP Scorecard: The UP Scorecard measures commonly used foodware and food packaging materials with a single yardstick to offer the first-ever, free, and comprehensive tool for making sustainable purchasing decisions for these products based on the latest available science. Scores are provided for plastic pollution, chemicals of concern, climate, water use, sustainable sourcing, and recoverability. Developed by the Single Use Material Decelerator (SUM’D) through an unprecedented collaboration of leading food service companies, NGOs, and technical experts, the UP Scorecard provides an authoritative resource for businesses as well as for environmental and human health advocates.Scores are based on both standardized LCA methods and novel scoring approaches that measure impacts from production to disposal. The calculations were reviewed and programmed by a team of independent LCA professionals. Where possible, life cycle impact assessment calculations were carried out based on peer-reviewed inventory data managed within the internationally recognized Ecoinvent database. A wide range of the most recent and publicly available data sources from governments, industry, academia, and NGO research and reporting projects were reviewed to inform model inputs including to develop the life cycle inventory. Best professional judgment compiled from the multi-stakeholder experts involved in the tool’s development were applied to address data gaps and recognize uncertainties.

#          #          #

One of the world’s leading international nonprofit organizations, Environmental Defense Fund ( creates transformational solutions to the most serious environmental problems. To do so, EDF links science, economics, law, and innovative private-sector partnerships. With more than 3 million members and offices in the United States, China, Mexico, Indonesia and the European Union, EDF’s scientists, economists, attorneys and policy experts are working in 28 countries to turn our solutions into action. Connect with us on X (formerly known as Twitter) @EnvDefenseFund

The Food Packaging Forum ( enables stakeholders to make better decisions by applying the latest science on chemicals in food contact materials and on the environmental impacts of food packaging. Through its independent, balanced, and science-based publications and tools, the Food Packaging Forum contributes to protecting human and environmental health.Connect with us on X (Twitter) @fpffoundation and on LinkedIn

The Green Science Policy Institute ( facilitates safer use of chemicals to protect human and ecological health. The Institute educates and builds partnerships among government, business, academia, and public interest groups to develop innovative solutions for reducing the use of six classes of harmful chemicals in products.Connect with us on LinkedIn and X (Twitter) @Green_Science

The Plastic Pollution Coalition is a nonprofit communications and advocacy organization that collaborates with an expansive global alliance of organizations, businesses, and individuals to create a more just, equitable, regenerative world free of plastic pollution and its toxic impacts.

The Sustainable Purchasing Leadership Council (SPLC) is a global community of purchasers, suppliers, advocates, and experts committed to driving positive impact through the power of procurement. SPLC connects members directly to sustainable procurement expertise and has a proven track record of supporting hundreds of organizations as they design and execute meaningful sustainable procurement strategies.