VESTAL, N.Y. (WIVT/WBGH) – Some Binghamton University students participated in a joint research study looking at how packaging affects food waste.

The New York State Pollution Prevention Institute, headquartered at the Rochester Institute of Technology, held a Student Packaging Research Symposium last Friday at Binghamton University.

P2i works to lower New York’s environmental footprint through technical assistance for companies, educational outreach to consumers and research.

Friday’s event examined what role packaging has in either preventing or contributing to otherwise good food going into a landfill.

Senior Engineer Melissa Hall says single serve packaging can actually reduce food waste.

“You’re just consuming that single serving rather than having more than you might eat and then you’re throwing away the extra. So, there’s definitely tradeoffs with food waste and serving sizes and the amount of packaging we’re doing. It’s a complicated issue,” said Hall.

Students at BU conducted a survey of consumers about the freshness benefits of using PFAS chemicals in packaging. They found that respondents were more concerned about the potential health concerns of PFAS than their perceived benefits.

“When you go to a restaurant, you choose your food, but you don’t choose your packaging. It’s sort of like a given that you’re to get it in a certain takeout box or container. People have expressed that they would actually like to have options when it comes to that side of it as well. Which I think is indicative of a growing interest in ecological concern,” said Binghamton University Graduate Student Liam Charles

Student researchers from RIT, Cornell and Clarkson also shared their findings such as whether essential oils can extend the shelf life of tomatoes.