PhD position in Design for Reusable Packaging Systems in the domain of FMCG

Research / Academic

We have an opening for a PhD candidate as part of the NWO KIC project 'Re2Pack - Revolutionary Reusable Packaging'. Plastic packaging represents 40% of plastics used and comes with severe environmental impacts. Although use of more sustainable plastics has been proposed, this is only a partial solution. Reusable packaging systems (RPS) are more promising in reducing environmental impacts, 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, this project takes an interdisciplinary approach focused on value chains, consumer behaviour, and design, to introduce sustainable RPS (through increased recycled content for example). It will be realised in collaboration with manufacturers, retailers, RPS providers, packaging and label producers, logistics and cleaning partners, and will provide insights into relevant decision processes, economic viability and sustainability of RPS, interventions for behavioural change, design guidelines, and decision tools.
This specific PhD vacancy focuses on the design of reusable packaging systems to increase stakeholders’ confidence and optimise sustainability, durability, economic viability, attractiveness and usability. The candidate will investigate how to design reusable product packages to overcome current challenges by for example increasing the number of reuse cycles of reusable packaging, accelerating returns, decreasing perceptions of contamination due to prior users or developing strategies for packaging standardisation across product categories. There will be a joint supervision between TU Delft and the University of Twente. The research will be carried out within the Faculty of Industrial Design Engineering of the TU Delft and the Department of Design, Production and Management of the University of Twente. While the PhD candidate will be physically hosted at TU Delft, part of the research may be conducted at the University of Twente to benefit from the expertise at both institutes.
Specifically, your tasks will include:
- Developing a design vision for mature reusable packaging systems embedded in society and strategies to optimise packaging and services for multiple lifecycles.
- Developing prototypes (in collaboration with project partners) in which the different interventions are implemented
- Investigating how stakeholders in the value chain and consumers respond to the created prototypes using both interviews and experimental studies.
- Discussing your findings in dissemination sessions with stakeholders from industry and governments to achieve societal impact.
- Writing scientific papers for academic conferences and journals
The PhD candidate should have an interest in education as a small amount of teaching in related courses is required. Additionally, you will have the opportunity to co-supervise Master graduate students on your research topic.
The preferred start date for the position is August / September of 2024.


- Completed Master's degree in industrial design engineering or a related field with demonstrated interest in design / packaging and innovation skills (e.g., creativity and future thinking).
- Experience in conducting empirical studies (preferably both qualitative and quantitative)
- Good scientific writing skills
- Ability to clearly communicate scientific results and interact effectively with both academic and practitioner audiences
- Interest in working on Sustainability and Circular Economy
- Ability to work independently as well as in a team, take initiative, and work towards results in a systematic way.
Doing a PhD at TU Delft requires English proficiency to ensure that the candidate is able to communicate and interact well, participate in English-taught Doctoral Education courses, and write scientific articles and a final thesis. For more details please check the Graduate Schools Admission Requirements.

Salary Benefits:

Doctoral candidates will be offered a 4-year period of employment in principle, but in the form of 2 employment contracts. An initial 1,5 year contract with an official go/no go progress assessment within 15 months. Followed by an additional contract for the remaining 2,5 years assuming everything goes well and performance requirements are met.
Salary and benefits are in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities, increasing from € 2770 per month in the first year to € 3539 in the fourth year. As a PhD candidate you will be enrolled in the TU Delft Graduate School. The TU Delft Graduate School provides an inspiring research environment with an excellent team of supervisors, academic staff and a mentor. The Doctoral Education Programme is aimed at developing your transferable, discipline-related and research skills.
The TU Delft offers a customisable compensation package, discounts on health insurance, and a monthly work costs contribution. Flexible work schedules can be arranged. 
For international applicants, TU Delft has the Coming to Delft Service. This service provides information for new international employees to help you prepare the relocation and to settle in the Netherlands. The Coming to Delft Service offers a Dual Career Programme for partners and they organise events to expand your (social) network.

Work Hours:

36 - 40 hours per week


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