As Steve Jobs said- Packaging can be a theatre, it can create a story. Packaging is not only a means to protect the product, it is the first impression of the product and the ethics of the manufacturer on the consumers. Companies are trying to create a value through both- their products and the packaging. That is why more and more companies are opting for sustainable packaging solutions, which have a lesser impact on the environment.
Sustainable packaging includes using resources and processes to create packaging that reduces the carbon footprint of the entire packaging lifecycle. In the first part of this series, we bring forth 5 companies who have successfully incorporated sustainable packaging solutions.
Note: You can find Part 2 of the Sustainable Packaging series here.
#1 Puma – Advocating the Stakeholders for Reducing Environmental Impact
Founded in 1948, Puma SE is a German multinational company and a leading international sportswear brand.
An article published in The Guardian in 2011 states- “Puma is the world’s first major company to put a value on its environmental impact.”
The Clever Little Bag Packaging
One of the remarkable packagings that Puma introduced is the “Clever Little Bag.” This packaging significantly reduced packaging materials as well as supply chain logistics.
This packaging reduced cardboard use by 65 percent over its traditional red-box packaging. It doesn’t require assembling and is capable of saving the following-
- 8500 tons of paper
- 20 million megajoules of electricity
- 1 million liters of water
- 10,000 tons of carbon dioxide
Puma’s Sustainability Philosophy
Sustainability is a key value of PUMA, and guides our company to work faster towards a more just and sustainable future.
-Bjørn Gulden, CEO, Puma
Puma aims at creating a maximum positive impact on the environment. For the sake, the company has joined forces with the industry peers to handle social and environmental impacts. Puma is also in a continuous trial to reduce the supply chain impact.
Puma’s Initiatives Towards Sustainable Packaging
The company has implemented ambitious targets towards reducing the packaging material and has expanded its role as “Better Work Program” in the industry working groups like-
- International Labour Organisation (ILO)
- International Finance Corporation (IFC)
- Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals Foundation (ZDHC)
As per Puma’s financial report for 2017, the following are the remarkable milestones in the company’s sustainable approaches. A major part of it includes benefits in packaging and supply chain sector.
- 99% of products and packaging are PFC-free and targets Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals from the supply chain by 2020.
- 95 % Cardboard and paper used in packaging are The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified material.
- Puma’s efficient packaging and distribution system is able to save 60 % paper and water than the traditional practices.
#2 Lego – Addressing Climate Change by Reducing Emissions
The Lego Group is a leading plastic construction toy manufacturing company based in Denmark. The company is famous for its flagship product- colorful interlocking plastic bricks. LEGO started manufacturing interlocking bricks in 1949. Since then, they have produced more than 600 billion LEGO parts.
LEGO is ambitious towards completely replacing single-use disposable plastics by sustainably sourced bio-based materials.
Some prominent aspects of LEGO packaging are-
- The packaging includes How2Recycle® label.
- The paper and cardboard used in LEGO product packaging is recyclable, sustainably sourced and certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).
LEGO’s Sustainability Philosophy
The Lego Group aims at creating a positive impact on society with its environmental concerns. The company wants to address the climate change by reducing emissions by improving energy efficiency.
The company also cares for waste management and believes in philosophy- future generations should also benefit from the same variety of materials and resources as we do.
LEGO’s Initiatives Towards Sustainable Packaging
To support our company mission, we have a Planet Promise and we have pledged to play our part in protecting the planet for future generations. Using sustainable packaging is an important part of fulfilling that promise.
-Tim Brooks, Vice President Environmental Responsibility, The Lego Group
Following are some of their remarkable approaches towards sustainable packaging.
- The company makes blisters or transparent window in packaging from recycled plastics.
- LEGO has started using recyclable paper-pulp trays over plastic trays for packaging.
- About 75 % of packaging cardboard comes from recycled materials.
- LEGO saves packaging material and logistics by reducing the box size by 14%.
- LEGO works with stakeholders to advocate for investment in renewable energy. The company has joined the RE100, a global initiative of companies committed to using 100% renewable energy.
Also, the company is partners with the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF) towards its efforts to reduce carbon emissions in manufacturing and supply chain.
In 2017, LEGO successfully achieved its ambition to balance 100% of its energy use with energy from renewable sources. The statistical achievements are-
- Because of compact packaging, LEGO is capable of saving 3,000 truckloads and 7,000 tonnes of cardboard every year.
- By replacing plastic trays with paper-pulp trays, LEGO is saving up to 1 million plastic trays from going to the landfill every year.
- At present day, LEGO makes boxes, bags, and special packaging from either recycled or sustainably sourced decomposable materials.
#3 KFC – Reducing Environmental Footprint by Switching to Paper Packaging
KFC, formerly known as Kentucky Fried Chicken was founded in 1930 as a roadside restaurant in Corbin, U.S. It is one of the first American fast food restaurant chains to expand internationally. Today, KFC is the second largest restaurant chain with more than 43,000 outlets in 123 countries. Along with the rapid-growing business, Environmental stewardship is also at the core of the company.
KFC, now a subsidiary of Yum! Brands aim at purchasing 100 % paper-based packaging for all its products by 2020. The packaging will use fibers from responsibly managed forests and recycled sources.
More than 98.8 % of KFC US’s paper-based retail packaging certifies the responsibly sourced criteria. Except for drinks and desserts, most of the KFC packaging for both takeaways and in-house consumption are paper-based.
KFC uses dining wares (e.g. clamshells, plates, and bowls) made from sugar-cane and bamboo instead of petroleum-based material.
The company is also trying its best to reduce the consumption of single-use plastic in its outlets across the world.
KFC’s Sustainability Philosophy
It doesn’t matter how much you know unless you know how much you care.
-Greg Creed, CEO, Yum! Brands
KFC believes in reducing environmental footprint by –
- Reducing energy consumption
- Reducing water consumption
- Using cent percent paper packaging for all its retail products and paper sourced from responsibly managed forests
- Reducing operational waste
KFC’s Initiatives Towards Sustainable Packaging
KFC has taken measures towards the environmental sustainability by reducing plastic packaging and reducing impact associated with water use in the supply chain. Following are some notable initiatives of the company-
- In India, the company is partners with ITC Ltd to source 100% of its paperboard for packaging.
- KFC Singapore has stopped giving straws and plastic caps for drinks to reduce single-use plastic waste.
- In China, the company has replaced plastic congee and soup cups by paper-cups. They have also significantly reduced the amount of paper used in tray liners and sandwich boxes. This helped in reducing the annual paper use by thousands of tons.
- In South Africa, the company uses paper packaging made from FSC certified virgin paper or recycled paper.
- The company is also experimenting edible coffee cups towards its goal of reducing packaging waste as much it can.
- KFC Australia launched the “Do the Right Thing, Use the Right Bin” campaign, which resulted in the diversion of 102 metric tons of commingled waste from landfill in 2015.
- KFC Germany separates the waste from restaurants into 5 different streams- paper, food scraps, plastics & metals, residual waste, and waste. By doing this, KFC Germany is able to save 7.2 metric tons of raw materials for packaging and avoids 4 metric tons of carbon dioxide releasing in the atmosphere.
- In 2015, Yum! Brands reported recycling 106,000 pounds of paper in the United States alone.
- Through its sustainable processes, KFC India anticipates more than the annual saving of 18,000 gallons of water.
#4 Dell – Saving Logistics Footprint by Reducing Landfill
One of the largest technology companies of the world, Dell Inc. was founded in 1984 in Texas, United States. Dell develops and repairs computer components, and has a name for making both hardware and software.
The company ships about 8.4 units of computer and peripherals per second. Dell cares to design efficient packaging and shipping processes along with reducing material packaging waste.
Dell Ocean Plastic Packaging
Scientists estimate that by 2050, there would be more plastic in the sea than fish.
Dell aims at using the plastics from the ocean for packaging and working with manufacturers to create an open-source ocean plastics supply chain.
Partnering with Lonely Whale, Dell participates in a program named NextWave to develop the first-ever commercial-scale ocean-bound plastics supply chain. The program participants anticipate that by using this plastic source, they would be able to divert 5 million pounds of plastics from entering the ocean in the coming 5 years.
Dell’s Sustainability Philosophy
When you’re delivering what your customers want, saving money and helping the planet — we call that good business.
-Jeff Clarke, Vice Chairman, Products & Operations, Dell Inc.
Dell believes in creating innovative package designs to save material and logistics footprint.
The 3 Cs are the important aspects of packaging at Dell.
- Cube– The Cube denotes the size of the packaging.
- Content– Content is the choice of packaging material.
- Curb– The company checks whether the packaging qualifies for curbside recyclability.
Dell’s Initiatives Towards Sustainable Packaging
In the quest for green packaging and shipping, following innovative packaging designs from Dell are remarkable-
- Bamboo in packaging: Dell replaced polyurethane foam with bamboo cushioning in its packaging.
- Cushions from mushrooms: For larger shipments, the company is developing compostable organic cushions from mushrooms.
- Making use of ocean plastics: The company is sourcing plastics from coastal areas and recycling them to make new packaging.
- Dell uses procurement standards and eco-labels in its packaging.
Years of Dell’s efforts towards diverting the landfill is recognized and companies like General Motors, Trek Bicycle, Interface, Van de Sant, Humanscale, Bureo and Herman Miller are working together for a sustainable future.
The highlights of Dell’s packaging outcome are-
- Reduction in global absolute greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 40%
- Diverting the packaging waste going into the landfill from Dell global by 50-60%
- 9.4 million pounds of material came from post-consumer recycled content (sourced from water bottles, etc.)
- Dell is able to save 99 % of its non-hazardous waste going into the landfill.
#5 Frito-Lay – Teaching Consumers to Use Packaging Responsibly
Frito-Lay Inc. is a subsidiary of PepsiCo manufacturing a variety of snack-food and a recorded annual sale of over a billion worldwide.
Started in 1930 as Frito company, Frito-Lay Inc. was founded in 1961 after its merger with H.W. Lay & Company. Subsequent mergers led to the formation of PepsiCo. Frito-Lay accounts for about one-third of PepsiCo’s annual sales.
The company understands that packaging plays an important role in protecting the quality of the product. But, at the same time, Frito-Lay feels it is also their responsibility to contribute to a quality life by conserving the environment.
Frito-Lay along with the parent company PepsiCo has set Performance with Purpose (PwP) 2025 agenda to design Recyclable and biodegradable packaging.
The company also thrives to use recycled material in packaging to reduce carbon impact.
Frito-Lay’s Sustainability Philosophy
Towards sustainability, Frito-Lay believes in a philosophy of 3 R-
- Reduce – The packaging material and consumption
- Reuse – Use the packaging more than once
- Recycle – Do not let the packaging go into landfill
Frito-Lay is on a constant trial to achieve positive water impact, reduce carbon emissions, promote sustainable sourcing practices, and reduce waste.
The company has incorporated these practices within its manufacturing and supply units and encourages the consumers for the same.
Frito-Lay’s Initiatives Towards Sustainable Packaging
The notable Frito-Lay packaging initiatives are-
- How2Recycle logo to inform consumers about the recyclability of the package and instructions about how to recycle.
- The company collaborates with Materials Recovery for the Future Collaborative (MRFF) of the United States and Circular Economy for Flexible Packaging (CEFLEX) of Europe to find solutions for recovering flexible Snacks packaging.
- Frito-Lay and sister companies are in line to using Danimer’s Nodax™ PHA bioplastic for next-generation flexible packaging for snacks.
- PepsiCo has increased the use of rPET, which is a recyclable polymer for packaging by 4 % across all its subsidiaries.
Today, we’re more dedicated to Performance with Purpose than ever before and we’re harnessing the power of our global scale to drive meaningful change across countries and continents.
-Indra K. Nooyi, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, PepsiCo
Frito-Lay leads many independent sustainability programs. It also participates in the initiatives of its parent company and sister concerns. Some remarkable outcomes of the sustainable participation of the company are-
- The PepsiCo Recycling Program has recycled over 140 million post-consumer containers since 2010 in the U.S. alone. This translates to 7.3 million pounds of PET and aluminum.
- With the Closed Loop Fund project, Frito-Lay contributed by delivering 4 million tons of post-consumer recycled feedstock.
In the next part of these series, we will discuss the sustainability approach of companies like P&G, HUL, H&M, Apple, and Philips. Stay tuned for the information about the valuable contribution of these companies for a sustainable future.12