According to a study carried out by the JI, the most common plastic packaging types used by humanitarian organizations delivering food aid are as follows:

• Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) – used for oil/water bottles.
• High-density polyethylene (HDPE) – used in vegetable oil containers.
• Polypropylene (PP) – used in woven bags for commodities such as rice and sorghum.

Considering the environmental impacts associated with the production and disposal of conventional plastics, humanitarian organizations are increasingly searching for alternatives to petroleum-based plastics—also referred to as “conventional” or “virgin” plastic—for their packaging.

This document explores some of the alternatives to plastics packaging and their related challenges. Identifying sustainable alternatives is complex, and rather than providing answers, this document aims at providing information and points for reflection, to help both procurement and program staff make more informed decisions.