DEVELOPMENT VERSION – Please provide your questions or comments to



Canada’s food and produce industry is a diversified one, ranging from large retailers to small firms producing goods for local markets. All face the challenge of reducing the impact of packaging on our shared environment. The development of industry-guiding packaging decision making tools provides resources to make the most sustainable packaging choices given the current and emerging packaging technologies and the state of waste management systems in Canada.

Spearheaded by Canada’s Produce Industry

Since 2019, the Canadian Produce Marketing Association’s Packaging Working Group has been leading efforts to advance the adoption of sustainable packaging options for Canada’s produce industry. Thru a combination of information products, industry seminars and ongoing efforts to share industry best practices, the CPMA’s Packaging Working Group has helped shape the conversation around sustainable packaging for fresh produce. The CPMA’s Packaging Working Group identified the need for packaging decision-making tools to support the produce industry in their pursuits for sustainable packaging solutions. This Guide is the response to this need.

Supported by Agriculture & Agri-food Canada (AAFC)

The development of this Guide is supported by Agriculture & Agri-food Canada thru the Canadian Agricultural Strategic Priorities Program (CASPP). The Program supports the Canadian agricultural sector’s participation in the Government of Canada’s growth and policy objectives by investing in the sector’s design, development and implementation of tools and strategies to respond to and seize opportunities created by these objectives.

In the case of this Guide, the benefits to the Canadian agriculture, agri-food and agri-products sector includes increasing sustainability, supporting strategic planning and capacity building, and helping address emerging packaging-related issues.

Enabled by Strategic Partnerships

Sustainable packaging challenges are not unique to Canada’s fresh produce sector. Many sectors face similar challenges in identifying and adopting sustainable packaging solutions. Consequently, the CPMA’s packaging working group reached out to key food-sector partners, notably Food and Beverage Canada, who supports this work thru their members.

In addition, leading plastics sector stakeholders such as the Canada Plastics Pact, and industry leading consultancies such as PAC Global provide strategic advice and support in regards to the current state of the plastics ecosystem in Canada.

How this Guide was Developed

Led by the CPMA’s Plastics Packaging Working Group, this Guide was shaped and informed thru direct input from leading food and produce industry stakeholders. Industry Advisory Groups with insights on leading packaging categories provided guidance in the development and refinement of the tools. 

Our Goal

To develop and deliver resources that will guide and support Canada’s food and produce industry decision-making – improving the sustainability of food packaging.

Guiding Principles

To ensure that each individual packaging decision making tool provides both high value and ease of use to food and produce industry stakeholders, the following core guiding principles were established to guide their development.

Effective User Experience

To produce value-added packaging decision making, a focus on user experience is critical. Consequently, the tools were shaped to ensure that they are action-oriented, practical, and easy-to-use.


Given the prominence of relevant information from across the plastics ecosystem, the Guide was developed by way of a process of co-curation, the ‘co’ being the network of project participants offering feedback and useful information during their development. Participants prioritized what and how to curate the most relevant information, avoiding “reinventing the wheel” wherever possible.


The tools are designed to help users in their decision making process. Given every business context is unique, the tools are not prescriptive, but rather provide guidance and direction as to what the users should consider as they assess various packaging options.

Sound Science

The CPMA’s strategic plan prioritizes the use of sound science and fact-based information in its information products. Consequently, this work references two key frameworks:


The Guide and associated tools are designed to achieve key sustainability outcomes, including:

  • enabling and supporting a circular economy (maximizing the circulating of materials) 
  • sustainable materials management (maximize the reduction of negative impacts throughout the life cycle of a product-packaging system), and
  • true sustainability (balancing social, economic AND environmental considerations)