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Sustainable Packaging Solutions Implemented by 5 Leading MNCs [Part 1]

Increasing awareness about environmental concerns among consumers and industries are primarily increasing the growth of the sustainable packaging market. The green packaging market registered a value of USD 224.92 billion in 2018 and is expected to be 297 billion in 2024 to register a CAGR of 5.7% over the forecast period 2019-2024. Sustainable packaging includes using resources and processes to create packaging that reduces the carbon footprint of the entire lifecycle.

This has become the need of the hour for both the consumers and producers. The jeopardy of future generations is in our hands. If we’re careful with our methods a better quality of life can be given to them. In the first part of this series, we bring forth 5 companies who have successfully incorporated sustainable packaging solutions.

#1 Puma –

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.”

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

The Clever Little Bag Packaging

One of the remarkable packagings that Puma introduced is the “Clever Little Bag.” This packaging significantly reduced materials as well as supply chain logistics.

Puma Shoes Box- sustainable packaging
Puma's Clever Little Bag Packaging

This packaging reduced cardboard use by 65 % 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 litres of water
  • 10,000 tons of carbon dioxide

Initiatives Towards Sustainable Packaging:

The company has implemented ambitious targets for reducing packaging material. It has expanded its role as “Better Work Program” in the industry working groups such as -

  • International Labour Organisation (ILO)
  • International Finance Corporation (IFC)
  • Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals Foundation (ZDHC)

Sustainability Outcome

As per Puma’s financial report for 2017, following are the remarkable milestones in the company’s sustainable approaches:

  1. 99% of products and packaging are PFC-free and targets Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals from the supply chain by 2020.
  2. 95 % Cardboard and paper used in packaging are The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified material.
  3. It can save 60 % more paper and water than traditional practices.

#2 Lego

The Lego Group is a leading plastic construction toy manufacturing company. They have made literal waves in trying to do their bit to help out the environment.

Sustainability Philosophy

The Lego Group aims at creating a positive impact on society with its environmental concerns. They also care for waste management and believe in the philosophy -

Future generations should also benefit from the same variety of materials and resources as we do.

Recyclable Packaging

LEGO is ambitious towards completely replacing single-use disposable plastics by sustainably sourced bio-based materials.

LEGO packaging-sustainable packaging
The LEGO blister packaging is made from recycled plastic

Some prominent aspects of LEGO packaging are-

  • The packaging includes the How2Recycle® label.
  • The paper and cardboard used in LEGO product packaging is recyclable, sustainably sourced and certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).

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
  • 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%.
  • The brand has joined the RE100, a global initiative of companies committed to using 100% renewable energy.

Furthermore, the company is partners with the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF) towards its efforts to reduce carbon emissions in manufacturing and supply chain.

Sustainability Outcome

In 2017, LEGO successfully achieved its ambition to balance 100% of its energy use with energy from renewable sources.

  • Saved 3,000 truckloads and 7,000 tonnes of cardboard every year.
  • Up to 1 million plastic trays were saved from going to the landfill every year.

LEGO sustainability outcome- sustainable packaging
LEGO's sustainability outcome till date

#3 KFC

KFC is the second-largest restaurant chain with more than 43,000 outlets in 123 countries. They have committed that all consumer-facing packaging that is plastic-based will recoverable and reusable by 2025.

Sustainability Philosophy

It doesn’t matter how much you know unless you know how much you care.-Greg Creed, CEO, Yum! Brands

The company believes in reducing environmental footprint by –

  • Reducing energy consumption
  • Reducing water consumption
  • Using 100% paper packaging for all its retail products and paper sourced from responsibly managed forests
  • Reducing operational waste

Finger Licking Good Packaging

KFC, now a subsidiary of Yum! Brands aim at purchasing 100 % paper-based packaging for all its products by 2020.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. Also, the company is trying to reduce the consumption of single-use plastic in its outlets across the world.

KFC- sustainable packaging
KFC sustainable packaging using papers for cups and tubs

Initiatives Towards Sustainable Packaging

  • 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.
  • In China, the company has replaced plastic congee and soup cups by paper-cups.
  • In South Africa, the company uses paper packaging made from FSC certified virgin paper or recycled paper.

KFC Global Scope- sustainable packaging
KFC's sustainability approach across the globe

Sustainability Outcome

  • KFC Australia’s “Do the Right Thing, Use the Right Bin” campaign resulted in the diversion of 102 metric tons of commingled waste from landfill in 2015.
  • KFC Germany saved 7.2 metric tons of raw materials by separating the waste from restaurants into 5 different streams - paper, food scraps, plastics & metals, residual waste, and waste. 4 metric tons of carbon dioxide releasing in the atmosphere was also avoided.
  • In 2015, Yum! Brands reported recycling 106,000 pounds of paper in the United States alone.
  • KFC India anticipates more than the annual saving of 18,000 gallons of water.

#4 Dell

Dell, a technology solution provider, ships about 8.4 units of computer and peripherals per second. Therefore, the company cares to design efficient packaging and shipping processes, along with reducing material packaging waste.

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.

The 3 Cs are the important aspects of packaging at Dell.

  1. Cube- The Cube denotes the size of the packaging.
  2. Content- Content is the choice of packaging material.
  3. Curb- The company checks whether the packaging qualifies for curbside recyclability.

Ocean Plastic Packaging

Scientists estimate that by 2050, there would be more plastic in the sea than fish. Partnering with Lonely Whale, Dell participates in a program called 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 Ocean Plastic- sustainable packaging
Dell's ocean plastics workflow

Initiatives Towards Sustainable Packaging

  • Bamboo in packaging: Dell replaced polyurethane foam with bamboo cushioning.
  • 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 create new packaging.
Dell- Bamboo cushion-sustainable packaging
Dell’s Bamboo packaging for delicate gadgets

Sustainability Outcome

Companies like General Motors, Trek Bicycle, Interface, Van de Sant, Humanscale, Bureo and Herman Miller are working together with Dell for a sustainable future.

  • 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 can save 99 % of its non-hazardous waste going into the landfill.

#5 Frito-Lay

Frito-Lay understands that packaging plays an important role in protecting the quality of the product. But, at the same time, the company feels it is also their responsibility to contribute to a quality life by conserving the environment.

Sustainability Philosophy

Frito-Lay believes in a philosophy of 3 R-

  1. Reduce - The packaging material and consumption
  2. Reuse - Use the packaging more than once
  3. Recycle - Do not let the packaging go into landfill

Frito-Lay 3 R-sustainable packaging

The company has incorporated these practices within its manufacturing and supply units and encourages the consumers for the same.

3R's Packaging

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 sustainable packaging goals
Frito-Lay sustainable packaging philosophy

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 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.
  • Increased the use of rPET, a recyclable polymer for packaging by 4%.

Sustainability Outcome

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
  • 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 aluminium.
  • With the Closed Loop Fund project, Frito-Lay contributed by delivering 4 million tons of post-consumer recycled feedstock.

Wrapping Up

These are five of the brands who have successfully incorporated sustainable packaging with their products. In the next part of this series, we will discuss the sustainability approach adopted by companies like P&G, HUL, H&M, Apple, and Philips. Companies are making a valuable contribution not only to raise the stakes of innovation but also to have a sustainable future of the planet.

Is your packaging sustainable? How? Let us know in the comments below.

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