Heinz partners with Tesco on soft plastics recycling drive

Heinz is partnering with Tesco to take the soft plastics from the supermarket’s in-store collection scheme and recycle it into food-grade packaging for Heinz Beanz Snap Pots.

Heinz partners with Tesco on soft plastics recycling drive

The pilot looks set to see 22 tonnes of soft plastic – which includes cling film, baby food and pet food pouches, crisp packets and salad bags – recycled

The new trial, which is set to launch in the UK next month, will see Heinz take soft plastic that has been returned by consumers to Tesco stores and recycle it into food-grade, microwaveable snap pots for Heinz Beanz.

Heinz states that the new snap pots will be made with 39% recycled soft plastics and will be certified to International Sustainability and Carbon Certification (ISCC) standards.

The pilot looks set to see 22 tonnes of soft plastic – which includes cling film, baby food and pet food pouches, crisp packets and salad bags – recycled. In 2020, just 6% of the UK’s soft plastics were recycled.

Kraft Heinz is building toward its goal of ensuring all packaging globally is recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2025 and also has a net-zero emissions target set for 2050.

The company recently announced its intention to develop a paper-based variant of its ketchup bottles, made from 100% sustainably sourced wood pulp.

Heinz’s Northern Europe president Jojo de Noronha said: “We’re very excited about this pioneering trial using the latest recycling technologies to make our Heinz Beanz Snap Pots – it has huge potential to make a positive impact. The new packaging gives our consumers an easy way to reduce their impact on the environment without having to give up the convenience of their favourite Heinz Beanz in a microwavable pot.

“What’s more, knowing that this type of plastic can now be made into useful food-grade packaging like our Snap Pots could encourage more people to drop it off at their local collection point until more permanent recycling infrastructure for these materials is put in place, rather than adding them to landfill.”

Tesco trials

Tesco last year rolled out recycling collection points for soft and flexible plastics to all UK stores. The scheme was launched in recognition of the fact that most local councils do not collect these plastics from homes, as they are challenging to recycle mechanically.

The supermarket first trialled in-store collections for soft and flexible plastics at ten stores in 2020, during which customers returned more than ten times the expected amount of plastic.

Plastics collected by Tesco are washed and sorted before being directed to a recycler. Most of the collected material is made into new products and packaging and Tesco has vowed that material that cannot be reprocessed in this way will be kept out of landfill, primarily through energy-from-waste systems.

During the initial trials in 2020, collected plastics were used to make food-grade packaging for Tesco own-brand cheeses. In a recent sample, 80% of the plastic collected was recycled and 20% was sent to energy-from-waste generation facilities.

The supermarket has also launched products sold through TerraCycle’s Loop platform online in 2020 and in stores in September 2021.

Loop provides customers with refillable options from major FMCG brands, such as Unilever and Danone. Customers pay a deposit that is returned to them when they bring packaging back to a store or get it collected by a courier. TerraCycle then assumes responsibility for cleaning the empty containers.

Tesco is one of several UK retailers offering an in-store take-back offering for flexible plastics. July saw Co-op rolling out its offering to 1,500 stores, following successful trials in 2020. Before that, Sainsbury’s had published plans to introduce in-store recycling systems for flexible plastics packaging across all stores nationwide, following successful trials in the North East of England earlier this year. Similarly, Aldi UK is adding them to 20 stores in the first instance.

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