Heinz and Tesco launch recycling pilot for thermoformed packaging

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Heinz and Tesco launch recycling pilot for thermoformed packaging

Thomas Reiner | 23.09.2022

Thermoformed packaging is considered difficult to recycle and has so far had only a shadowy existence in recycling. The Kraft Heinz Company and the Tesco retail chain are therefore launching a pilot project in the UK. The focus is on newly developed packaging for “Heinz Beanz Snap Pots,” which consist to 39 percent of ISCC PLUS-certified recycled plastic. The experiment with a near-retailer return system is highly exciting. It addresses a previous “material problem child” and at the same time circumvents the difficult near-household disposal. Brand owners and retailers are continuing to drive the circular economy forward at full speed. That’s a good thing, because retail in particular could offer huge leverage when it comes to recycling.

 

 

“Heinz Beanz Snap Pots” contain Heinz beans in a rich tomato sauce and are a very popular side dish in the UK. Typically, thermoformed packaging is used for this type of food, but so far it has not ended up in the cycle. In 2020, for example, only 6 percent of thermoformed packaging in the UK was recycled.

The new pilot project launched in July 2022 by Heinz and supermarket chain Tesco aims to close this gap – with a newly developed packaging and a retailer-based return system.

 

Snap Pots

Snap Pot packaging is very popular with consumers. They are easy to handle, have a practical format, are suitable for the microwave and offer good product protection.

 

The partners in the new closed-loop packaging

For the pilot project, Heinz partnered with packaging manufacturer Berry Superfos, chemical recycler Plastic Energy and Saudi Arabian chemical and metals group Sabic to develop a new, circular version of Snap Pots.

 

Validation of recycled content

The new Snap Pots are made to 39 percent of ISCC PLUS-certified recycled plastic. Validation follows a mass balance approach as recommended by ISCC (International Sustainability & Carbon Certification). It allows tracking the quantity and sustainability characteristics of all materials used in the manufacturing process.

 

Recycling and manufacturing process

  • The recycled content of the new Snap Pots comes from thermoformed packaging that was dropped off by consumers at Tesco store collection points after use.
  • The packaging collected from retail outlets is physically separated and then converted into an oil feedstock by Plastic Energy.
  • The oil feedstock obtained is subsequently combined with virgin material by Sabic and processed into new plastic granules approved for food contact.
  • The granules are finally processed into new Snap Pots at an ISCC-certified Berry Superfos site.

 

Heinz packaging goals

With the pilot project, The Kraft Heinz Company is aiming to contribute to its goal of making all packaging used 100 percent recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2025.

 

Retail = Leverage

Brand owners and retailers continue to drive the circular economy forward at full speed. Retail in particular offers huge potential here, bypassing the difficult near-household collection of packaging. It will be exciting to see whether consumers play along with the near-retail collection system. If they accept the system, it offers enormous leverage for collection and recycling.

 

Theoretically not enough

Heinz and Tesco’s approach can only be welcomed. Because one thing is clear: recyclability alone sounds good, but what matters is the result in practice. In real terms, we need to be able to capture used packaging and feed it into material recycling. Anything else is window dressing.

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Plastics: Majority of food companies fail to keep their promises

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Plastics: Majority of food companies fail to keep their promises

Thomas Reiner | 16.09.2022

According to a recent investigation by Deutsche Welle and the European Data Journalism Network, two out of three food companies in Europe are not keeping their self-imposed plastic commitments. The investigation examined 98 “plastics pledges” made over the past 20 years by 24 food and beverage companies headquartered in Europe. The results of the investigation are sobering – and will not only fall on the feet of the respective companies, but will discredit the entire industry. We need more effort and action, more monitoring by independent third parties, and more transparency through honest, proactive communication.

 

 

Proclaim good things, do too little and spread the cloak of silence over your failure: the investigation by Deutsche Welle and the European Data Journalism Network shows that a majority of the full-bodied – and certainly well-intentioned – announcements by European food companies on reducing plastic use are far too rarely followed by the corresponding actions.

 

The investigation in detail

  • The investigation examined 98 “plastic pledges” made by 24 food companies headquartered in Europe.
  • The self-commitments were announced in the last 20 years, with the majority dating from recent years.
  • The target date for achieving the proclaimed goals was (and is) mostly 2025.
  • Contents of the “plastic pledges” commonly include reduction of plastic use, substitution with other materials, use of recyclate or so-called bio-plastics, reusability and recyclable design.
  • The survey results show that of 37 pledges with deadlines that have already passed, 68 percent have either failed or disappeared into obscurity without communication.
  • Another finding of the investigation is that when companies fail to meet their commitments, they generally don’t disclose it openly. Instead, they silently drop their targets or postpone them internally to the distant future.

 

Conclusion

The results of the survey are undoubtedly sobering. Of course, there are often hard reasons for failure, such as the lack of availability or the skyrocketing prices of needed recyclates.

But either way, companies and their brands are measured by the commitments they make. The 2025 target used by most players is not far off – and will lead to a bitter conclusion if we don’t counteract quickly and decisively. The public will look very closely and judge without leniency.

We therefore need a clear framework that makes progress and lack of progress on the plastics commitments transparent and public. NGOs can play a weighty role in this. This applies in particular to targets that have only been announced in recent years. Mere self-commitment by companies is (obviously) not enough.

 

3 Measures

In our view, there are three measures that can help ensure compliance with the plastics commitments and avert discredit for the entire industry.

  1. companies need to increase their efforts. What is currently being done is not enough in most cases.
  2. the voluntary commitments should be subject to monitoring by third parties. This can be NGOs, but also participation in initiatives such as “New Plastics Economy”, which continuously check and track set targets.
  3. progress, but also difficulties and failures in the implementation of the plastics targets must be communicated transparently, honestly and proactively.

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Risks in the supply chain continue to rise. 5 recommendations for action

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Risks in the supply chain continue to rise. 5 recommendations for action

Thomas Reiner | 09.09.2022

Further increasing risks in the supply chain can become extremely dangerous for SMEs, especially as is the case for the German “Mittelstand.” The affected companies in the packaging industry are also highly vulnerable. Those who believe they can still duck out of sight can no longer be helped. What is needed is the ability to learn how to deal with the risks and to take active action. Five clear recommendations for action show the way.

 

 

Even two years ago, almost every company was affected by supply chain disruptions. This is shown by the results of a joint survey conducted by riskmethods and the German Federal Association for Materials Management, Purchasing and Logistics in 2020 on the topic of challenges in supply chain management.

Today, the situation is even more tense, the problems even greater, the risks even higher. This has serious consequences for German SMEs in particular. It is largely susceptible to risks. This unquestionably includes the numerous companies in the packaging industry.

 

Results of the study

No analyses, much ignorance, no prevention, no contingency plans: these are the frightening results of the survey “Supply Chain Risk Management: Challenges and status quo 2020: results of a joint survey of risk methods and the German Association for Materials Management, Purchasing and Logistics”:

  • Prevention analyses to identify the risk potential are a foreign word for two thirds of the respondents.
  • More than half of the purchasing and supply chain managers do not know where their supply network is most vulnerable.
  • Only 6 percent of companies quantify their financial damage.
  • Only one in four respondents have action plans ready to respond quickly in an emergency.

The survey involved 154 respondents, most of whom work in procurement. The participants predominantly hold managerial positions. More than half of the participants represent manufacturing companies, and one-third of the companies have sales of more than 500 million.

 

5 Recommendations for action

Anyone who still hasn’t heard the shot in view of the situation and the foreseeable future is probably beyond help. All others increase their learning speed in dealing with the risks and focus on active and future-oriented solutions.

Our five most important recommendations for action in a nutshell:

  1. multi-regionalization instead of globalization
  2. partnership-based supplier and also customer relationships
  3. diversification of raw material sources
  4. diversity instead of standard
  5. transparency – no future without factual knowledge of the company’s situation and risk potential

 

If companies had already taken the necessary steps since the time of the survey two years ago, the situation would not be so serious for them today. But looking at the past must be an incentive and not paralyzing. Because we will also be looking back in two years’ time. And we can do a lot now to ensure that this look will be more positive then.

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Coca-Cola launches beverage bottles without labels

Image source: The Coca-Cola Company

Coca-Cola launches beverage bottles without labels

Thomas Reiner | 02.09.2022

Coca-Cola has launched rPET beverage bottles without labels for its Swiss mineral water brand Valser. The logo and product information are embossed directly into the bottle. The barcode is found on the cap. The label-free bottle is a great and bold approach. It goes in the right direction and shows the potential beyond recyclate use and recyclability. More and more clearly, the entire system is being rethought – opening up new avenues and innovative approaches for an optimized circular economy.

 

 

Since 2019, the beverage manufacturer Valser has already been selling its mineral waters in bottles made from 100 percent rPET. Now the brand, which belongs to Coca-Cola, is one of the first companies in Switzerland to do without the label as well.

The first Valser products to be offered without labels are VALSER Sparkling, VALSER Still and VALSER Still Calcium & Magnesium. According to the company, the above products are already available and are being tested on the market in the new 750 ml size.

 

The advantages of label-free

  • Less packaging material is needed.
  • The decreased resource consumption and shrunken production process reduce the use of energy and water, which also improves the carbon footprint.
  • The decreased packaging volume leads to decreased packaging waste.
  • Eliminating the label simplifies recycling and brings efficiency benefits.

 

How it works:

  • Product information and logo are embossed directly on the bottle body.
  • The barcode required for retail sales is printed on the top of the cap.

 

Onward, ever onward

Eliminating the label is a great and bold approach. It’s a move in the right direction and shows that we don’t have to stop at the use of recyclate and recyclability. What’s more, we can’t stop there!

Because there is more to it – if we look at everything holistically and think in a new way. If we question the system completely and put it to the test, completely new paths and approaches open up. You can simplify and push circular economy in a completely different way once again.

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Carlsberg’s Paper Bottle Trial: Paperization dominates in more than one discipline

Image source: Carlsberg Group

Carlsberg’s Paper Bottle Trial: Paperization dominates in more than one discipline

Thomas Reiner | 26.08.2022

Carlsberg is launching a trial of its new “Next Generation Fiber Bottle” for beer in eight Western European markets. According to the world’s third-largest brewing group, the new “paper bottle” features a PEF plant-based polymer lining that can be both composted and recycled in existing plastic cycles. The new packaging is thus not only intended to pay dividends in terms of climate protection, where glass has a significant CO2 disadvantage compared to paper, at least in disposable form. It is also intended to exploit its recycling advantages over plastic. Paperization currently dominates in more than one discipline. The opportunities for the packaging industry are significant.

 

 

Carlsberg launches its pilot project with 8,000 consumers and stakeholders in Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, the UK, Poland, Germany and France. The new generation beer fiber bottle will be used at selected festivals and flagship events, as well as in targeted product sampling.

First generation fiber bottles

  • The paper bottle 1.0 was used, for example, for premixed cocktail drinks from “The Absolut Company.” It was made of about 57 percent paper, had a plastic mouthpiece and an inner PE barrier.
  • The first-generation fiber bottle could be recycled in some paper streams, although the plastic portions were not recyclable.

Second generation fiber bottles

The Fiber Bottle 2.0 was developed by Paper Bottle Company (Paboco), Avantium and other members of the paper bottle community.

The inner barrier

  • According to Carlsberg, the bottle features a plant-based PEF polymer liner from Avantium.
  • The manufacturer states that the PEF is made entirely from natural raw materials and is compatible with plastic recycling systems. Outside of recycling systems, the bottle is said to degrade naturally.
  • According to Carlsberg, the new PEF barrier is not only a highly effective barrier between beer and the fiber outer shell. It also protects the taste and effervescence of the beer better than conventional fossil-based PET plastic.

The outer shell

  • According to Carlsberg, the outer shell has insulating properties that keep the beverage cooler for longer compared to cans or glass bottles.
  • It is produced by Paboco and is made from sustainably sourced wood fibers, according to the company.

Closure is a sticking point

  • The closure of the fiber bottle is made of non-biobased plastic. However, it is fully recyclable, according to Carlsberg.
  • To ensure the quality of the product, it is not possible to resort to a bio-based solution, it said.

Third-generation fiber bottles

  • For future generations of the Fiber Bottle, Carlsberg aims to achieve a reduction in climate emissions of up to 80 percent compared to current disposable glass bottles. Five Fiber Bottles are then expected to have the same carbon footprint as their single-use glass counterparts.
  • In a further step, the Fiber Bottle should also be competitive with returnable glass and achieve the same, low CO2 footprint.

Paper and reusable trump plastic and glass disposables

From the point of view of climate emissions, returnable glass is obviously the measure of all things at present. Compared to the disposable glass variants, however, the paper bottle is superior in terms of CO2 and links well to Carlsberg’s new ESG program of targeting net zero carbon emissions by 2040.

It is therefore not surprising that solutions made of paper and reusable systems are securing more and more market share and are the focus of innovations in beverage packaging.

However, the recyclable paper bottle not only pays off in terms of climate protection. Especially in comparison to plastic, it also plays out its advantages for the circular economy. It’s the familiar mantra: as long as the cycles for plastic are not closed, the die is cast.

Circular economy, environmental and climate protection: the paper bottle has the potential to poach in more than one discipline.

The opportunities for the packaging industry are significant.

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