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LIFE Fresh Box: a sustainable transport solution conserving quality of fresh produce, reducing waste & fuel consumption

European Union
Geo-spatial type
Project website
Project Acronym
LIFE Fresh Box LIFE13 ENV/ES/001362
STRIA Roadmaps
Vehicle design and manufacturing (VDM)
Smart mobility and services (SMO)
Transport mode
Multimodal icon
Transport policies
Environmental/Emissions aspects
Transport sectors
Passenger transport,
Freight transport


Background & Policy context

Fresh products, such as fruits and vegetables, are highly perishable. They therefore require rapid transportation and good storage after being harvested in order to maintain their physical, chemical and organoleptic properties.

Enhancing the shelf life of fresh produce, however, can help avoid food waste during transportation/distribution and in households. Food waste in the EU is considered to amount to 89 million tonnes/year and 42% of it is generated in households (37 million tonnes/year). This has been estimated to equal 1.9 tonnes of CO2 equivalent/tonne of food waste.

Intra-EU trade of fruit and vegetables in 2010 represented around 27.2 million tonnes of products out of a total production of 76 million tonnes. Most goods are moved in Europe by truck (around 50%), 10% by train, 40 % by boat – with just a small fraction being transported by plane. According to the European Commission, road transportation fuel consumption in 2009 was about 300 Mtoe (Mega T of Oil Equivalent) and involved a generation of around 878 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent.


The LIFE Fresh Box project aims to improve the sustainability of the distribution of fresh products in order to improve the sector’s ability to offer better products to the end consumer. This will help to improve the sector’s overall competitiveness.

Such aims will be achieved by developing and demonstrating an innovative, and more environmentally friendly, container called the Fresh Box. This container will improve the sustainability of the full value chain of fresh product distribution (from farm to consumer). The Fresh Box container will reduce food waste, extend fresh product shelf life and reduce fuel/energy consumption.

The LIFE Fresh Box is an active/smart container that stores/transports each type of fresh product in the ideal conditions for the required respiration rate. Its innovative micro/macro perforated membrane system includes active substances and ethylene absorbers that protect fresh products from microbial spoilage, thereby extending shelf life and avoiding food waste.

Fresh Boxes are monitored with an innovative Integrated Sensor Kit (using RFiD technology) to check the main environmental features in the container and allow traceability. They are lightweight, made with a technology which saves energy (MuCell SFC) and applying an innovative material, PLA, which is recyclable, biodegradable and compostable.

Furthermore, the Fresh Box can be used to transport fresh products that are harvested at a higher maturity stage. As a consequence, end consumers will be able to enjoy fruits and vegetables with better physical, chemical and organoleptical features.

In this way the innovative Fresh Box will demonstrate its ability to reduce food waste due to extended shelf life, save CO2 emissions due to lighter and more sustainable materials which lead to the reduction of energy/fuel consumption, and improve the quality of fresh products offered to the final consumer.

  • Expected results:
  • Increased shelf life of fresh products by 30% compared with fresh products transported in conventional containers;
  • Reduced food waste by 20% compared to fresh products transported in conventional containers;
  • Better physical, chemical and organoleptical features compared with fresh products transported in conventional containers; and
  • Reduced energy consumption by at least 20% and less material used during manufacturing compared with conventional containers.



Parent Programmes
Institution Type
Public institution
Institution Name
European Union
Type of funding
Public (EU)


Lead Organisation
EU Contribution
Partner Organisations
EU Contribution


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