PhD Position on the Sustainability of Revolutionary Reusable Packaging

PhD Position on the Sustainability of Revolutionary Reusable Packaging

Published Deadline Location
19 Feb 17 Mar Utrecht

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Reusable packaging systems (RPS) have promising environmental benefits compared to single-use packaging, do you want to join us in research on that?

Job description

Reusable packaging systems (RPS) have promising environmental benefits compared to single-use packaging, yet have been subject to less integrated attention in science and society, potentially due to the complexity of the required system change. To address this, the project Re2Pack takes an interdisciplinary approach focused on value chains, consumer behaviour, and packaging design, to introduce sustainable RPS. We are looking for a PhD candidate to join us in the project.

Your job
In collaboration with manufacturers and retailers, RPS providers, packaging and label producers, and logistics and cleaning facilitators, the project will provide insights into relevant decision processes, economic viability and sustainability of RPS, interventions for behavioural change, design guidelines, and decision tools.

We are searching for a PhD candidate to work in an interdisciplinary environment to identify and quantify the economic and environmental sustainability of RPS, using and developing decision-making tools based on Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). The supervisory team will include researchers from Utrecht University (the main host and employer) and the University of Twente.

The research will be carried out within the Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development of Utrecht University (in the Geosciences Faculty of Utrecht University) and the Department of Design, Production and Management of the University of Twente. While the PhD candidate will be physically hosted at Utrecht University, part of the research will be conducted at Twente University, depending on the specific stage of research, to benefit from the expertise at both institutes.


Utrecht University


We are looking for a colleague who:
  • holds a Master's degree (or equivalent) in environmental sciences, industrial ecology, industrial design engineering, sustainable development, sustainable business innovation or another relevant discipline;
  • has a multidisciplinary education and experience with natural sciences disciplines. This involves both qualitative and quantitative analytical skills and systems thinking;
  • has demonstrated experience applying life cycle assessment and, ideally, knowledge of the packaging sector;
  • has the ability to clearly communicate complex information and interact effectively with both academic and diverse stakeholder audiences;
  • is enthusiastic to learn and work independently and as part of a larger team working on the transition to the circular economy;
  • has excellent English language skills, both written and verbal;
  • has the curiosity and motivation to address important real-world problems through rigorous and ambitious academic inquiry.

Conditions of employment

We offer:
  • a position for one year, with an extension to a total of four years upon successful assessment;
  • a gross monthly salary between €2,770 and €3,539 in the case of full-time employment (salary scale P under the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities (CAO NU);
  • 8% holiday pay and 8.3% year-end bonus;
  • a pension scheme, partially paid parental leave and flexible terms of employment based on the CAO NU.

In addition to the terms of employment laid down in the CAO NU, Utrecht University has a number of schemes and facilities of its own for employees. This includes schemes facilitating professional development, leave schemes and schemes for sports and cultural activities, as well as discounts on software and other IT products. We also offer access to additional employee benefits through our Terms of Employment Options Model. In this way, we encourage our employees to continue to invest in their growth. For more information, please visit Working at Utrecht University.


Universiteit Utrecht

A better future for everyone. This ambition motivates our scientists in executing their leading research and inspiring teaching. At Utrecht University, the various disciplines collaborate intensively towards major strategic themes. Our focus is on Dynamics of Youth, Institutions for Open Societies, Life Sciences and Pathways to Sustainability. Shaping science, sharing tomorrow.

Utrecht University’s Faculty of Geosciences studies the Earth: from the Earth’s core to its surface, including man’s spatial and material utilisation of the Earth – always with a focus on sustainability and innovation. With 3,400 students (BSc and MSc) and 720 staff, the faculty is a strong and challenging organisation. The Faculty of Geosciences is organised in four Departments: Earth Sciences, Human Geography & Spatial Planning, Physical Geography, and Sustainable Development.

The Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development aims to have a positive impact on the transition to a sustainable society. They do this by developing excellent and relevant knowledge and by educating change agents of the future. They collaborate with citizens, politicians, policy-makers, NGOs and firms to learn from each other and influence decision-making. They work in interdisciplinary teams and have organised their research around three cross-topical themes and five sustainability challenges. The themes, Governance, Modelling and Transitions, represent our signature and cover central aspects of sustainability research and policy. The five topical sustainability challenges, Circular Economy, Sustainable Energy, Sustainable Food, Sustainable Land and Sustainable Water, highlight our research strengths.

The University of Twente Department of Design, Production and Management aims at understanding and improving design processes and consequently also manufacturing processes. Focal points in this research field are the development of methods and tools for scenario-based, user-oriented product design against the background of the requirements and constraints of the entire product life cycle. 'Integration' and 'synthesis' are important topics for design engineering research, the focus is on understanding and improving the design process irrespective of the product. Within this department, the chair of Packaging Design and Management focuses on research and education in the realm of packaging design, engineering, user interaction, and sustainability.


  • PhD; Research, development, innovation; Education
  • Natural sciences
  • 28—40 hours per week
  • €2770—€3539 per month
  • University graduate
  • 3639



Princetonlaan 8a, 3584CB, Utrecht

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