Kraft Heinz unveils new circular packaging strategy in plastic reduction drive

After surpassing its 2020 packaging reduction aims two years early, consumer goods giant Kraft Heinz has committed to ensuring all its packaging is either recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2025 as it strives to become more circular.

The US-based food and beverage firm said in a statement it would “aggressively pursue” innovative alternatives to virgin plastics in a bid to meet the new aim, which comes after Kraft Heinz pledged to make its iconic Heinz Tomato Ketchup Bottles “fully circular” by 2022.

Alternatives to notoriously hard-to-recycle packaging such as single-use condiment packets, multi-laminate Capri Sun juice pouches and the packaging of individually wrapped Kraft Singles cheese will have to be found as part of the aim.

“Our collective industry has a massive challenge ahead of us with respect to packaging recyclability, end-of-life recovery and single-use plastics,” Kraft Heinz’ chief executive, Bernardo Hees, said.

“Even though we don’t yet have all the answers, we owe it to current and future generations who call this planet home to find better packaging solutions and actively progress efforts to improve recycling rates.”

The new packaging pledge additionally includes a commitment to increase the proportion of post-consumer recycled (PCR) plastics Kraft Heinz uses in its packaging. However, specific recycled content targets with dates have not yet been confirmed and are mooted for inclusion in the firm’s 2019 sustainability report.

Kraft Heinz’s fresh commitment, announced on Tuesday (July 31), comes after the company announced that it had surpassed its original 2020 target to reduce the weight of its global packaging by 50,000 tonnes.

The move sees Kraft Heinz join a string of corporations to have made commitments targeting plastic waste from packaging in recent months. For example, Unilever this spring agreed to a new partnership to develop technology capable of converting PET plastic waste into virgin-grade materials available for use in food packaging.

A 2C world

Alongside its new packaging targets, Kraft Heinz announced that it is on track to set an approved science-based target in the next two years.

The corporate said in a statement that it would seek approval for a new carbon reduction aim, in line with the Paris Agreement’s flagship target of limiting the global temperature increase below 2C, once its current 2020 aim of reducing its absolute emissions by 15% expires. Since setting the 2020 aim in 2015, Kraft Heinz has so far reduced its GHG emissions by 5.2%, according to the firm’s latest sustainability report

Hees said that the new emissions targets will include goals for greenhouse gas reductions across Kraft Heinz’ global supply chains, after the company found that most of its emissions were indirect.

The move sees Kraft Heinz join more than 400 other large businesses have committed to set an approved science-based target over the coming years, including real estate giant JLL.

Meanwhile, more than 100 companies, including Levi StraussIkea, and Molson Coors, have had their goals aligning to 2C verified by the Science-Based Targets Initiative (SBTi).

Sarah George 

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