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Brand owners setting aggressive goals for packaging sustainability

By: Angie DeRosa

October 8, 2012

PITTSBURGH (Oct. 8, 1:30 p.m. ET) — Major brand owners are taking sustainability very seriously, using reductions in packaging and aggressive recycling initiatives to illustrate their goals and their message. Several brand owners made their positions known during the Sustainable Packaging Forum, held Sept. 11-13 in Pittsburgh.

“We believe we’re really well grounded in sustainability,” said Eva Peters, director of packaging development for Pepperidge Farm whose corporate parent is the Campbell Soup Co. of Camden, N.J. The company’s goals are based on the principles of protect, reduce, recycle, renew and partner.

Under the company’s packaging goals, it will eliminate 100 million pounds of packaging by 2020.

“We are well on our way,” Peters said.

That is illustrated in specific cases like Pepperidge Farm redesigning the Goldfish bread and Deli Flats packages and reducing plastics usage by 65 percent. The company received the Gold DuPont Packaging Award for Excellence in Innovation and Waste Reduction for the replacing the original tray-in-bag packaging and shared the award with Printpack Inc., C-P Flexible Packaging and Sealstrip Corp.

Campbell’s itself has seen results from lightweighting bottles used to hold the company’s V8 brand of juice drinks. The company saved more than 540,000 of plastics. It is also undertaking waste audits in its bakery brands.

“It’s a journey,” said Peters. “We’re still in the very beginning stages of this. We go into the business with enabler ideas. It will be important for us as packaging people to continue to educate. There is a huge opportunity for innovation within sustainability.”

Mega coffee company Starbucks Coffee Co. is asking how it can become a game changer for the recycling industry. The Seattle-based company’s corporate goal is to declare its cups recyclable.

“By 2015, we want to be able to say that all our cups are recyclable,” said Jim Hanna, Starbucks’ director of environmental impact. Starbucks defines recyclability as access to markets. The consumer needs to have access to the infrastructure to make the choice to recycle.

“There are no silver bullets out there,” he said. “We are trying to develop a playbook that is going to work from community to community to community. We are far from solving this issue but we are well on our way.

Coca-Cola Co. of Atlanta will outline its goals during Plastics News’ 2012 Sustainable Plastics Packaging conference, Dec. 3-5 in Atlanta. For information and to see the line-up of speakers, see www.plasticsnews.com/spp2012.