With all the talk about plastics sustainability in the business world, corporate responsibility reports are getting a little more interesting, if you're willing to dive into the details.
Take yesterday's from Keurig Dr Pepper. The company announced that 100 percent of its K-Cup coffee pods are made from polypropylene, which is a step forward from the multilayer packaging it replaces.
But PP remains challenging for curbside recycling systems, and KDP alluded to that.
It said it was working on a pilot with local recycling programs to use RFID technology to separate K-Cup pods in recycling streams.
In the weeds of the report, there are other interesting details that show how much remains to be done.
It says that last year, for example, only 2 percent of KDP's plastic packaging was made up of post-consumer content (that's compared to 22 percent across all of its packaging materials). The company's goal is 25 percent post-consumer content by 2025.
Similarly, KDP's recently announced plan to cut its virgin plastics use by 20 percent by 2025 has a ways to go. Last year its virgin plastics was only down 1 percent, from a 2019 baseline.
But other plastics sustainability initiatives in the report seem to be showing more progress.
The U.S. Plastics Pact, which KDP is part of, has a goal of phasing out what it considers hard-to-recycle plastics materials, those that have weak end markets.
Along those lines, KDP said it had virtually eliminated polystyrene from its packaging mix last year. It was a quick drop, from 6 percent of the packaging portfolio in 2018 to 0.2 percent last year.
And the report shows how definitions matter.
KDP says in big print that 74 percent of its plastic packaging was recyclable or compostable in 2020.
Sounds good, but in the fine print, KDP acknowledges that only 50 percent was actually recyclable, if you use the more stringent definition of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation's plastics work.
EMF requires a 30 percent recycling rate for a package to be effectively — not just technically — recycled.
Clearly, progress is happening but more work needs to be done.
Thanks to Assistant Managing Editor Steve Toloken for contributing this item on KDP. We will both be glad to have our regular Kickstart writer Rhoda Miel back on the job tomorrow.