Growing momentum for recycling commitments

medium_laurel2015.jpgThe weekly Verdigris blog by Laurel Brunner

Kraft Heinz is the world’s fifth-largest food and beverage company, so it buys an awful lot of print. Recently Kraft Heinz has been paying more attention to its environmental impact, specifically its recycling objectives.

Under its new CEO Bernardo Hees, CEO, the company has renewed its sustainability commitments. The company published its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programme 2015, outlining commitments to cut by 15% greenhouse gas emissions, water consumption, waste to landfill and energy consumption emissions by 2020, from a 2015 baseline. With an eye on the circular economy Kraft Heinz has now gone a step further, and aims for all of its packaging to be 100% recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2025. That means using more recyclable plastics and an increase in paper and board usage. Crucially Kraft Heinz’s CSR commitment extends to the company’s supply chain, which of course includes packaging designers and print service providers.

Hees said “We found that most of our emissions are coming from areas outside our direct operations. To truly succeed as champions of sustainability, we will look at our full value chain and determine where we can make the greatest impact for our planet.” This means that any company providing print media services for Kraft Heinz branded products should have policies in place supporting sustainability, such as waste management and production workflow efficiency. Designers, agencies and print service providers working on product packaging can work with Kraft Heinz to support this effort with environmentally friendly packaging designs and production models. ISO’s technical committee for graphics technology already has a couple of documents to help with this, hopefully encouraging more people to consider recyclability as part of their packaging design criteria.

Packaging designs can optimise sustainability in various ways, such as by minimising excess components and complex production, and maximising the use of recyclable materials. Production can be organised to be as close as possible to its point of use, in order to minimise emissions associated with transport. Waste handling can also be supported pre- and post-consumer by print service providers working in partnership with the brands.

Kraft Heinz has a global presence, so its work towards a circular economy is relevant worldwide. The company is working with Environmental Packaging International, a consulting group, to improve packaging solutions and develop efforts for technical improvements and improved recycling rates. Kraft Heinz is partnering with appropriate industry associations and organisations to look at the technical, end-of-life and infrastruction options available to it. It is looking into what’s needed and investing in what’s required. Where possible it’s going beyond increasing the amount of recycled materials in packaging and reducing overall packaging volumes. The company has already reduced the overall weight of its global packaging by 50,000 metric tonnes and is working on making the PET bottle used in its tomato ketchup fully circular by 2022. The new PET will use recyclable material that can be processed into new food grade plastic.

For print service providers this all means improved workflow and colour management efficiency. It means doing carbon footprint calculations for packaging based on ISO 16759 for calculating the carbon footprint of print. It means managing waste control and logistics optimisation. All of this plus other ideas can be developed to support the Kraft Heinz expectations and those of its competitors in the packaging supply chain. More details will be available in the company’s sustainability report due out later this year.

– Laurel Brunner

This article was produced by the Verdigris Project, an industry initiative intended to raise awareness of print’s positive environmental impact. This weekly commentary helps printing companies keep up to date with environmental standards, and how environmentally friendly business management can help improve their bottom lines. Verdigris is supported by the following companies: Agfa Graphics, EFI, Fespa, HP, Kodak, Kornit, Ricoh, Spindrift, Splash PR, Unity Publishing and Xeikon.

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