News & Updates

Award-winning peanut butter brand ManiLife moves into new bespoke glass jars for the ultimate taste experience

Award-winning peanut butter brand, ManiLife, will be moving its core range into new bespoke designed, fully recyclable and reusable glass jars from January 2023. 

Rolling out exclusively into Sainsbury’s stores from 2nd January, all six peanut butter varieties will be available in new premium glass jars, which are made from 60% recycled glass material, and are infinitely recyclable. From 16th January, ManiLife fans will be able to purchase directly through the website and from 30th January, the glass jars will be available nationwide across all its retailers. 

The exciting part of the move to glass jars is not the glass alone. On the launch, founder Stu Macdonald commented: “We’ve designed these jars for the ultimate peanut butter experience. They’re short and wide which means stirring is genuinely a pleasure and spooning every last morsel out of it is utter bliss. It can be common for the standard thought process for brands in food and drink to go tall and thin because it can give the impression that the pack is bigger than it is – it’s nice to be authentically going against the grain!”

The new core glass jars (275g) will feature a bolder label design to improve standout on shelf. The new label design will be rolled out across the existing fully recyclable 1kg tubs and mini pots during 2023. 

The move was driven by consumer research and insight. Consumers continue to ask for glass packaging which will elevate perceptions on the brand’s premium quality and help contribute to a more sustainable future, where the hope is to build a reusable packaging loop.

Stu Macdonald said: “I think the masses will probably be thinking ‘finally!’ as it’s taken a while to put our peanut butter into to glass; but we had to make sure we got it right. We’ve had so many messages from customers asking us to move into glass, so we listened. Our existing jars, lids and labels are all 100% recyclable, so our glass jars needed to be up to the same standard. 

“ManiLife is made in small batches with the finest Argentinian peanuts. We believe it is the highest quality nut butter on the market, proven by being awarded the most ‘Great Taste’ stars of any other peanut butter, something we’re super proud of. We had many reasons for the move to glass, but we didn’t want to pick any old jar. It had to be bespoke, designed for the ultimate ManiLife experience. I think we’ve got there and I cannot wait for people to try it” 

Produced by a supplier that uses electricity from 100% renewable sources and practices fully circular design with zero waste production, the glass jars are recyclable and microwave safe, so customers can reuse their glass jars over and over again in ways such as making sauces, overnight oats and granola pots. 

As well as the 275g jars, the ManiLife mini pots, which are included in well over one million recipe boxes per year through their partnerships with Gousto, Mindful Chef and more recently Grubby, have also been redesigned. The new pots will be 100% recycled, 100% recyclable and will biodegrade if they happen to end up in the ocean or landfill.


News & Updates

Absolutely Locked in on Sustainable Packaging

Global spirits brand The Absolut Co. drives sustainability and efficiency from bottle molding through shipping for glass, plastic, and paper packaging.

The tone of the recently released The Absolut Co. (TAC) FY21/22 Sustainability Report is summarized in the introductory words by company Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Stephanie Durroux.

“One of the standouts that differentiate, reinforce, and define us as a company is a long-term and true commitment to sustainability,” she writes. “Sustainability continues to be very high on our agenda despite the global economic, logistical, and geopolitical challenges that we have all faced over the past year.”

The importance of packaging in TAC’s grand scheme comes into sharp focus a few paragraphs later. “Malibu [rum] continues to optimize the use of plastic in packaging. Decreasing the use of virgin plastic, while increasing the amount of recycled plastic in bottles and has also extended its successful collaboration with Plastic Bank by another year,” she reports.

It’s the perfect set-up in our summary extracting from the company’s packaging initiatives throughout the rest of the 59-page document. These include optimized sustainability found in reducing stretch wrap, increasing use of rPET and paper-based slip sheets, and continuing development of the Absolut Paper bottle and a new fiber-based bottle cap.


We start with the go-to container in the premium spirits market globally.

About glass bottles…

“A fundamental part of our sustainability strategy is a commitment to make Absolut Vodka a carbon-neutral product by 2030 and we remain on track despite a challenging year,” notes Anna Schreil, VP operations. “Since our distillery is so carbon efficient, around half of the carbon footprint of Absolut Vodka when it sits on the shelf comes from the natural gas used in the production of the [glass] bottle.”

The company is aiming for 60% recycled glass content in Absolut Vodka bottles by 2025.

More about glass bottles and furnaces…

Tina Robertsson, director of sustainable performance, acknowledges that along with recycled content, the company’s most critical effort underway is substituting renewable fuels and introducing hybrid technology for the petroleum fuel used in glass production.

Another win is in increased recyclate.

“The work has been successful so far; in less than a decade, the share of recycled glass has increased from 36% to 53%,” Tina says. “Since the use of recycled glass reduces energy consumption and thus emissions, it makes a significant difference. In 2015 we reduced the weight of bottles, cutting their carbon footprint by 10%.”

Image courtesy of The Absolut Co.Absolut-3-Bottles-390x419h.jpg

About plastic bottles…

Pernod Ricard set out to use at least 25% recycled plastic in its packaging by 2025. Today, Malibu rum bottles are made with 30% recycled PET (rPET).

“Our sustainability plans at the brand include a partnership with Plastic Bank to support a plastic recycling ecosystem in the Philippines,” notes Alexander Klismo, global brand manager, who’s optimistic about increasing the brand’s plastic recycling content in its largest market: America. “Most of our plastic packaging is sold in the US where the amount of recycled plastic content has been historically low due to a lack of recycling infrastructure. But there are signs of an improvement and we are currently exploring ways to get ahead in the US.”

About cardboard dividers and wooden pallets…

“Last year we decided to remove all cardboard dividers in boxes for all Absolut Vodka Original in 700-mL and 1000-mL bottles going to Europe,” Schreil reports.

This has led to lower costs, better efficiency in bottling lines, and a reduced need for material resulting from slightly smaller boxes.

“We no longer use wooden pallets in the containers, instead using slip sheets made of layers of paper that are much thinner and lighter than pallets,” Schreil adds.

More about pallet slip sheets….

Today, several businesses within the Pernod Ricard Group use slip sheets or a blend of slip sheets and wooden pallets. The slip sheets are much thinner and lighter than wooden pallets — and with a tensile strength of 3,000 kg/6,614 lb, yet they weight just 1 kg/2.2 lb each. Plus they’re reusable and recyclable.

TAC uses them for containers shipped by sea, which account for 90% of shipments, enabling an extra 40 cases per pallet.

About reduced stretch wrap…

According to Harri Tossavainen, warehouse and distribution manager, TAC leverages proprietary market research with customers and to optimize shipments.

“We can make suggestions on the quantities of each order. We now utilize 88% of the space in the containers we send, compared to less than 80% before we started this project in 2010. Loading our pallets in an [optimized] way — 28 instead of 22 cases each — reduces our plastic [stretch-wrap] usage by approximately 45,000 kilogram/99,208 pounds per year.”

About the company’s future in packaging sustainability…

TAC singled out these three developments going forward:

Reusable containers: In Asia, Absolut Vodka, along with other Pernod Ricard brands Beefeater London Dry Gin and Havana Club Rum, are aiming to reduce waste and carbon emissions by transporting their product to bars in bulk and using reusable containers five up to times bigger than 750mL bottles.

Absolut Paper bottle: TAC continues a partnership with Paboco to pioneer a fully recyclable, 100% bio-based wood fiber bottle, “Absolut Paper”.

“Over the past year, we’ve taken significant steps towards our goal and have conducted successful tests using Absolut Vodka Original,” Klismo explains. “In parallel, we are exploring another paper bottle for the Malibu brand; there is nothing like some healthy competition to drive innovation.”

A fiber bottle cap: The company working with the Glatfelter Corp., a paper mill that supplies  engineered materials, Swedish-based Blue Ocean Closure (BOC), and plastic packaging company Alpha Group.

“We’re developing an innovative natural fiber-based screw cap for Absolut Vodka bottles,” Klismo says. “These uniquely designed caps are made from air-laid material that is formed, reeled, transported, and pressed, resulting in a cap that is ocean biodegradable and recyclable.”


News & Updates

Egg Brand Picks Bio-PET Cartons Over Fiber

Spring Creek Quail Farms’ decision relies on bio-PET packaging from good natured Products for the desired recyclability, durability, and product visibility.

Spring Creek Quail Farms chose Vancouver, BC-based good natured Products Inc. Bio-PET packaging to safely deliver its naturally raised quail eggs to grocery stores in the US and Canada, including Kroger, Costco, Loblaws and Sobeys.

Located in Ontario, the family-owned farm is dedicated to raising and promoting the benefits of fresh quail eggs for their prized flavor, creamy texture, and nutrient-packed goodness. As a zero-waste farm, Spring Creek is dedicated to environmental stewardship through its full supply chain and has committed to 100% recyclable packaging and shipping materials.

The selection of bio-based plastic packaging was a clear choice.

The Bio-PET packaging is made from up to 30% plant-based materials instead of petroleum, which met Spring Creek’s requirements for recyclability across North America while also reducing the brand’s reliance on fossil fuels.

In addition to being fully recyclable, Spring Creek egg packaging must adhere to strict requirements to enable product visibility and ventilation, comply with food safety, and be durable enough to withstand shipping and on-shelf safety.

Lack of product visibility and poor leak and crush resistance are key contributors to egg breakage and food waste during transport as well as on store shelves. Consumers often open foam or fiber cartons to inspect eggs prior to purchasing. Customers can clearly see the quail eggs in PET containers, which reduces the need to open the carton before purchase. 

“We believe a business shouldn’t have to compromise great design, product enhancement and durability in the search for environmentally friendly packaging,” says Aaron Oosterhoff, owner and CEO of Spring Creek. “It’s in our DNA to match our packaging choices with our zero-waste, vertically integrated business practices, and we’re grateful good natured could meet all our requirements.”

“The packaging design process with Spring Creek enabled us to fully demonstrate our ability to dig deep into a customer’s unique needs, understand their industry and then fine tune a design and precise material choice that would check all the boxes,” says Paul Antoniadis, CEO of good natured. “Great packaging design is a combination of choosing the right material, engineering a solution that considers the full supply chain, and making it affordable. I’m proud of our team who worked diligently on iterations until the perfect form and function was achieved for Spring Creek and we look forward to continuing to make fresh quail eggs readily available throughout North America.”


News & Updates

Three steps needed to establish a closed-loop circular economy

In July 2022, the UK and northern mainland Europe were struck by an unprecedented heatwave, with the hottest temperature in the UK recorded at 40°C. For many, this has been a wake-up call to take urgent action in mitigating climate change, with the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit finding that 70% of people in the UK agreed that climate change was a driver behind these temperatures.

We are clearly not on track to limit global warming by 1.5°C, which can primarily be achieved through decarbonizing our energy systems and the materials we use. The only way to preserve our planet is to urgently limit the permanent drainage of our planet’s fossil-based resources and put in place the steps to establish a circular economy. The packaging industry must play a leading role in this, with plastic packaging accounting for nearly 70% of plastic waste in the UK.

In tandem, with the global population expected to grow by more than 25% between 2020 and 2050[1], and 821 million globally currently undernourished[2], access to safe, nourishing food has never been more pertinent.

Businesses can be a force for good when it comes to addressing this delicate balance between sustainability and food security. We need high-performance packaging that can deliver safe and nutritious food that does not impact the world’s limited resources. To do this, we need to consider the entire lifecycle of packages.

1. Making the most of materials

A package starts with the raw materials that make up its different components. How these materials are sourced and the impact this has on the environment is a critical part that needs to be considered when building a circular economy.

This means reviewing the efficiency of the materials we use to make food packaging. The industry must find alternatives to fossil fuel-based materials, and instead look to increase the use of renewable materials, such as paperboard and plant-based plastic, that come from sources which can be replenished over time.

Responsible sourcing should be a strategic objective for businesses where not only are ethics around material sourcing considered, but also the social and environmental impact it has. Having a positive contribution on the environment and communities across the supply chain must be taken into consideration. With renewable materials, products can have more of a positive environmental, economic and social impact and promote sustainable land use and biodiversity.

Using paperboard that comes from wood from responsibly-managed forests, for example, ensures circularity in the packaging supply chain. Tetra Pak is pioneering the use of plant-based, fully renewable materials in its cartons. Its Tetra Rex® Plant-based carton is the world’s first fully renewable beverage carton. It is Forest Stewardship Council™ (FSC)-certified[3] and made entirely of paperboard, from responsibly managed forests and other controlled sources. The plastic is also plant-based, made from Bonsucro-certified sugarcane.

With the UK producing around 9.5 million tonnes of waste in 2018, the role packaging plays to keep food safe, secure and edible cannot be underestimated. Food security cannot be compromised, therefore, the plant-based materials used in packaging need to be capable of providing this, increasing the importance of innovative design. Addressing the need for less carbon intensive options, this year Tetra Pak is testing a fibre-based barrier to replace the aluminium layer in its aseptic packages. This marks another breakthrough in Tetra Pak’s long-term roadmap towards developing an aseptic package that is fully renewable, fully recyclable and carbon neutral. 

2. Earning consumers’ trust and engagement

The Tetra Pak Index 2021 found that consumers are showing increasing environmental concern. UK respondents are in fact more worried about the environment now than they are about COVID-19 (63% versus 58%) – the only country where this is the case.

Consumer engagement is integral if we are to establish a fully closed-loop circular economy. They must be bought into it, informed during their purchasing decision and made aware of the recycling process. After all, a strong recycling culture amongst consumers helps to minimise waste and litter. However, it is when recycling is part of a holistic approach, factoring in renewable plant-based materials, teamed with effective infrastructure that it makes its biggest impact.

Consumers therefore need to trust and feel confident in using recyclable packaging, made from renewable materials. This requires transparency and means the industry must work with cross-sector stakeholders and third party organisations – like FSC™, Bonsucro Chain of Custody and other external certification programmes – to effectively show this across the supply chain.

This is also the case with providing more information to consumers on recycling. Progress will also be limited on this front unless consumers can be persuaded to actively engage with recycling processes. For example, our research last year found 58% of UK consumers don’t understand what the Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) entails and 59% say they would be confused by it unless it was consistent with household recycling collections.

Packaging companies therefore have a responsibility to invest in consumer education, to encourage them to engage with recycling culture, refute common misconceptions and empower them to feel part of a positive change. Engaging with consumers on both the type of package they are buying, as well as how it can be recycled, are vital in delivering a circular economy. However, the best possible results can only be achieved with fully supportive recycling infrastructure.

3. Collaborating for an all-in recycling system

Recycling is often viewed as a cure-all for packaging waste management. But it can only boost recycling rates and support a circular economy if the corresponding infrastructure is consistent across areas and has the ability to sort carton packages more effectively for recycling.

When it comes to recycling infrastructure, packaging companies also have a part to play. In 2013, Tetra Pak supported the opening of a carton packaging recycling plant near Halifax, capable of recycling up to 40% of the cartons manufactured each year for the UK food and drink market.

However, with the EU committed to 65% of all packaging waste recycled by 31st December 2025, there needs to be a more consistent infrastructure – and cannot just rely on industry investment. This goes beyond what individual companies can do and requires cross-industry and cross-sector conversations and partnerships. Tetra Pak was recently involved in the signing of a letter to Environment Secretary George Eustice MP, from 20 cross-party MPs, appealing to the Government to widen the scope of materials included its proposals for a DRS. Policy therefore should be ambitious, creating an ‘all-in’ DRS that includes as wide a range of materials as possible, including cartons, to help improve consumers awareness and education.

A big challenge requires a big response

Tetra Pak is calling on a refocus on how the packaging industry addresses its role in delivering a circular economy – by not just focusing on waste management via an efficient and comprehensive DRS, but also through investing in research and development of plant-based, renewable materials in packaging design.

A big challenge such as this requires a big response. No business works in silo, and therefore when it comes to addressing climate change, this remains the case. This demands cross-industry and cross-sector collaboration in order to actually achieve a circular economy – and fast.


News & Updates

A harmonised approach to fibre-based packaging recyclability

Following the launch of the beta version of the 4evergreen alliance’s Fibre-Based Packaging Recyclability Evaluation protocol, we catch up with Hans Wortman, 4evergreen Chair and Internal Business Consultant at WEPA Group, and Peter Hengesbach, project co-lead and recyclability manager at Stora Enso to find out how the protocol was developed, the collaboration powering it, challenges involved and next steps.

Could you tell me a bit more about the steps that went into designing the fibre-based packaging recyclability evaluation protocol?

Hans Wortman: When our value chain came together to form the 4evergreen alliance, we knew that one of the first challenges to perfecting the circularity of fibre-based packaging was that we lacked a common assessment of recyclability, and we were taking different approaches to measuring the recyclability of fibre-based packaging materials.

That is why we set up a specific working group to develop the Fibre-based Packaging Recyclability Evaluation Protocol. Experts across the entire value chain have collaborated intensely to create a consensus-based protocol with the aim of achieving both broad acceptance and an agile response to the urgent calls within the market for a harmonised recyclability assessment across Europe.

We carried out over 50 recyclability tests of different packaging materials – from corrugated board to coated papers – using the CEPI recyclability laboratory test method, and we have verified the results.

We then evaluated the results and balanced the scoring across key parameters – sheet adhesion, coarse and fine reject, and visual impurities. From this, we were able to develop a tool that calculates the overall yield to be expected in the standard mill recycling process for a material, plus the other key parameters sheet adhesion and visual impurities, to produce an overall recyclability score for recyclability in a standard mill.

I’d like to hear a bit more about the collaborative aspect. How did having input from different experts across the value chain help?

Peter Hengesbach: Uniting experts from the entire value chain into one group brought a lot of interesting discussions and a lot of divergent viewpoints. Of course, it has been challenging to find compromises and common points between members representing different sectors and industries. However, we think it’s fundamental to include all the different views and opinions, which is the key added value of the 4evergreen alliance. We took a clear science-based approach, which helped us come to an agreement on a tool that the whole fibre-based value chain can find useful and accurate.

What challenges did you have to overcome when developing this tool?

Peter Hengesbach: First, we have worked with a relatively new laboratory test method– the CEPI recyclability laboratory test method. This means that we need to familiarise ourselves with the methods and the results obtained. Making sure that the obtained recyclability test results were both repeatable and reproducible was very work-intensive. A detailed work description was elaborated as an additional guidance document, and several testing labs all over Europe have been included in the work.

Another challenge has been to set targets and thresholds and the relative weights of the different parameters that come into play while assessing recyclability. It has been a tough exercise for the experts to come to a consensus on those values, but we are happy with the outcome and looking forward to feedback on this beta release.

How will this tool help with reaching the goal of reaching a 90% recycling rate by 2030?

Hans Wortman: Fibre-based packaging recycling rate is 82% (Eurostat, 2019), so the reason why we want to reach our goal of 90 % is more about perfecting an already circular value chain, than fixing something fundamentally wrong with our products, which are already sustainable and recycled at scale. So, with this protocol, we have taken an important step in one aspect: harmonising the way we measure and assess recyclability. It is a key component of our overall ‘design for recyclability’ approach. To reach our 90% goal, continuing to innovate will be key and that innovation can be perfected by a strong understanding of how using different materials and components will impact the recyclability of fibre-based packaging solutions.

It is also important to keep in mind that due to the wide variety of fibre-based packaging solutions, we may need to adapt recycling processes to increase the rate of material recovery. Indeed, the amount and variety of fibre-based packaging on the market are continuously growing and becoming more complex and the industry was missing a harmonised European approach to assess the recyclability of fibre-based packaging.

This protocol will enable a harmonised, objective assessment and comparison of different fibre-based packaging solutions’ suitability for efficient recycling. While the current version covers the assessment of recyclability using standard mill technologies, future versions currently being developed within the 4evergreen alliance will also include suitability assessments for other processes using different or more advanced recycling mill technologies. Indeed, any fibre-based packaging assessed as unsuitable for standard recycling can potentially be successfully recycled in flotation-deinking mills, specialised recycling mills, or even mills that have slightly adapted their process to recycle certain types of packaging.

Once completed, the Protocol will represent a comprehensive toolkit to boost recyclability evaluation and further support the industry in introducing fibre-based packaging to the market compatible with a low-carbon, climate-neutral society, together with the other guidelines already released by our alliance: the “Circularity by Design Guideline” and the “Guidance on the Improved Collection and Sorting of Fibre-Based Packaging for Recycling.”

What are the next steps following the beta launch?

Peter Hengesbach: While this document is the outcome of a collaboration and consensus-building process between more than 75 4evergreen member organisations, not all parameters potentially affecting the recyclability assessment of fibre-based packaging have been included yet. Therefore, this document will be reviewed and updated in accordance with user feedback and technical updates once the entire value chain starts applying the protocol to various fibre-based packaging items and scenarios. Any feedback is, therefore, welcome to be shared at and will be considered for future versions.

This beta release of the Recyclability Evaluation Protocol focuses mainly on the evaluation using standard recycling mills technology (Part I) but also gives a short description of the other already existing recycling processes: flotation-deinking mills (Part II) and specialised recycling mills (Part III).

Future versions of this document will include an evaluation of the suitability for these recycling processes being currently developed within our alliance and aimed to be released in the latter half of 2023.


News & Updates

How to measure reusable packaging success

How can we accurately measure the environmental and economic success of reusable packaging models? The creation of a common language and set of metrics is essential, says Mike Newman, CEO of Returnity.

There are several factors working together to make it an exciting time for reusable packaging: consumer interest, corporate action, government regulations, and media interest are all increasing. But in that rush towards our new “circular economy,” we lack a common language and set of metrics to assess program viability and success.

Without it, reuse will continue to struggle to get traction and risks a backlash as stakeholders start to understand the sensitive and potentially harmful impact of counter-productive reusable packaging initiatives.

All new product or service launches – traditional or circular economy – inevitably centre around volume: how many stores, brands, or customers are involved. It’s a straightforward and reasonable way of assessing scale, and if it isn’t scaling, it isn’t economically or environmentally meaningful.

But “how many” isn’t the best filter when considering reuse. To really understand if switching from single-use to a purpose-built reuse model is succeeding and scalable, you have to first ask “how often.” How often is the packaging being reused?

Why? First, reusable packaging is more expensive to manufacture than single-use. You need to utilize the asset sufficiently to make it economically competitive (unit economics matter!) Second, reusable packaging is worse for the planet than single-use – until it isn’t. Each reusable package needs to be used enough to justify the additional resources that went into the manufacturing of that more durable package, plus the collection, cleaning, and repositioning.

Put simply, if you get the packaging back “enough,” you have a chance to cross the economic, environmental, and operational threshold necessary for the initiative to truly scale.

So… what is enough? There is no one answer, which is part of the challenge. Life cycle assessments (LCAs) will typically start by looking at the existing single-use package and consider the material composition, manufacturing process, distance the product travels from the point of manufacture to the customer, recycling location and recycling rate, and more. Those same data points apply to reusables – plus the return logistics and cleaning impact.

It’s common for companies to avoid giving a simple answer around the rate of reuse for their products. They might tell you how many times it can be reused (i.e., the lab-assessed durability) or how many times a specific package was reused (i.e., we had a refillable container returned 23 times), but lab testing and outlier behavior don’t matter. You have to look at the overall program results.

For shipping packaging, most LCAs suggest you need to get at least seven to ten use cycles in a reusable to see a net benefit, while reusable cotton tote bags may need to replace hundreds of single-use plastic bags. LCAs aren’t a perfect tool, but they are useful in defining the required baseline of reuse for the packaging to succeed.

The truth is that reuse statistics are fairly unforgiving. Getting those seven use cycles requires an average return/reuse rate of 86%. For ten cycles, you need a 90% or greater return rate. At Returnity Innovations, we prioritize programs that hit a 95% or greater return rate, which translates into the packaging being used for 20 cycles. Yet consumers and the media often praise programs reporting a 67% or lower reuse rate, likely because they are unaware that it translates to just three average uses per package before it is landfilled or recycled.

When reading coverage around reuse, I’d therefore encourage you to look for three distinct data points:

1. What reuse rate is the initiative getting? If they sent out orders in 100 reusable shipping bags, what percentage were shipped back? If they sold 100 refillable shampoo bottles, what percentage were brought back and refilled?

2. What would LCAs suggest is the necessary rate of reuse to make this an environmentally net-positive alternative to single-use?

3. What are the program trend lines, and over what timeframe? New initiatives won’t be perfect out of the gate, and we need to experiment. If a program isn’t at the reuse level it needs to be viable today, when do they expect it to get there, and how?

This is becoming more critical than ever now that regulations are mandating reusable packaging in markets around the world. The intent is noble, but until we start to differentiate between putting products in reusable packaging and reusing reusable packaging, we risk making the problem worse, not better.

Some of the original reuse initiatives have been in the market for five to ten years or longer. If those approaches haven’t yet crossed a baseline reuse-rate threshold, then all stakeholders, including the media, public, and reuse companies themselves, should have a frank dialogue around what it will take to get there, and use the simple and transparent metrics necessary to make that determination.


News & Updates

Uber and Visa launch programme to provide $1 million to small food establishments switching to sustainable packaging

Uber and Visa are joining forces in a new programme designed to support qualifying small-to-medium-sized Uber Eats restaurants in their transitions towards sustainable packaging solutions with a $1 million fund.

While the initiative is being launched in Davos, Switzerland, the $1 million will eventually be available to restaurants utilising Uber Eats in London, Paris, Madrid, New York, and Los Angeles in the hopes of enabling a greater shift into sustainable packagingfor the hospitality sector.

The announcement comes in light of a study conducted by the US National Restaurant Association in 2022, which suggests that ongoing supply chain issues faced by the hospitality industry and the cost of switching to sustainable packaging are causes of concern for restaurants that would otherwise prioritise environmentally friendly business practices. Uber Eats and Visa hope that the programme will help to bridge the gap, with details about restaurants’ eligibility and how to apply for funding set to be shared on the Uber Eats for Merchants website in the coming months.

“Building on the success of our shared support for small and medium-sized businesses, I’m very happy to be turning our efforts with Visa towards how we can help restaurant owners reduce packaging waste and contribute to the fight against climate change,” says Pierre-Dmitri Gore-Coty, SVP and global head of Delivery for Uber. “Single-use packaging is used in nearly every takeout order worldwide—with Visa and our restaurant partners we can work towards reducing waste and helping small businesses thrive.”

“With consumers continuing to express desires to live more sustainably, businesses across sectors have a notable opportunity to adopt more sustainable practices to meet this demand,” adds Douglas Sabo, chief sustainability officer at Visa Inc. “Visa is excited to expand on our partnership with Uber Eats to help small businesses to not be left out of the sustainable business transformations this moment requires.”

A similar initiative from Deliveroo aimed to save over 400 tonnes of single-use plastic from landfill by providing its partners with a 50% subsidy on the cost of sustainable packaging.

DoorDash has also announced its new Package Pickup service to assist consumers in returning prepaid packages to the relevant shipping companies.


News & Updates

Asda to switch to ‘best before’ labels on own-brand yoghurt packaging in bid to lessen food waste

Asda is replacing the ‘use by’ date labels with ‘best before’ alternatives on over half of its own-brand yoghurts, a move intended to reduce food waste in the home.

According to a report produced byWRAP, 70% of all the yoghurt wasted in UK households is attributable to consumers failing to eat it before the date displayed on its ‘use by’ label, and that half of all wasted yoghurt is never opened. Asda hopes to prevent unnecessary food disposal by changing the labels of such products as its natural yoghurt, Greek Yoghurt, and Extra Special Strawberry and Hazelnut.

The company reports that its technical manager, microbiologist, and product manager have been conducting food safety and quality evaluations to ensure that the twenty-eight lines set to undergo the change can be safely labelled with ‘best before’ dates.

“We are always looking at ways we can help customers reduce food waste in the home, and with research from WRAP saying 54,000 tonnes of edible yoghurt is thrown away unnecessarily each year, we are hopeful this change will both make a big difference to the environment and save customers money at the same time,” said Paul Gillow, vice president of Fresh & Frozen Foods at Asda.

Catherine David, director of Collaboration & Change, WRAP, added: “WRAP is thrilled to see our partner Asda make these changes on yoghurts – which will help reduce food waste in our homes. Wasting food feeds climate change and costs us money – with the average family spending £700 year on good food which ends up in the bin. Our research shows applying the appropriate date label to products like yoghurts can help reduce the amount of good food that is thrown in the bin.”

The announcement comes after Asda’s previous removal of ‘best before’ dates from almost 250 of its fresh fruit and vegetable products across UK stores. Instead, the packs will feature a display code that employees can use to gauge the freshness of a product.

M&S adopted a similar approach with its own fruit and vegetable products, while Waitrose encouraged customers to judge a product’s freshness for themselves by removing ‘best before’ dates from nearly 500 of its products.

In another effort to reduce food waste,Unilever is working alongside Too Good to Go to provide home delivery for in-date food that would otherwise be thrown away, aiming to give consumers more access to fresh food that has passed its sell-by date.


News & Updates

Coffee pods have lower carbon footprint than filter coffee, according to new study

A new study has suggested that coffee pods result in fewer greenhouse gas emissions throughout their life cycle than those of filter, French press, and instant coffees.

The findings, which were originally revealed in The Conversation, are derived from calculations tracking the greenhouse gases emitted throughout the life cycle of coffee from its agricultural production to the washing of the cup it is served in – comparing the carbon footprint created in the preparation of traditional filter coffee (25 grams of coffee); encapsulated filter coffee (14 grams); coffee brewed in a French press (17 grams); and soluble or ‘instant’ coffee (12 grams).

Filtered coffee emerged as the product with the highest carbon footprint due to the high quantity of coffee powder used to prepare it and the amount of electricity used by a coffee maker to heat and maintain the temperature of the drink. When the recommended amounts of coffee and water are used, instant coffee is reported to be the most environmentally friendly option; a lower amount of coffee is used to prepare the final drink, a kettle consumes less water than a coffee maker, and the preparation of soluble coffee leaves behind no organic waste for disposal, according to the study.

However, in allowing for a 20% surplus of coffee and the heating of twice as much water as necessary – a measure implemented to account for overconsumption on the part of the consumer – coffee capsules are said to optimise the amount of coffee and water per serving. Drinking a 280ml brew prepared with a capsule is suggested to save between 11 and 13 grams of coffee.

While the findings acknowledge that coffee pods are largely single-use solutions and contribute to packaging waste, they also state that the CO2 equivalent emitted in the manufacture of a coffee capsule and its delivery to landfill is valued at 27 grams – far lower than the 59 grams of CO2e generated in the production of 11 grams of Arabica coffee in Brazil.

The production of the coffee itself is thought to generate anywhere between 40% and 80% of the total emissions of any type of coffee packaging due to the mechanisation, irrigation, and use of fertilisers that emit nitrous oxide during the growing process. Even so, consumers are advised to minimise their own contribution by switching to coffee capsules yet resisting the temptation to overindulge in the convenience of a capsule machine.

They should avoid wasting any coffee and hot water they prepare and should preferably utilise reusable capsules, or otherwise be aware of the options available for recycling single-use capsules in their local area.

Recent efforts have been made to further facilitate the recycling of coffee pod packaging. The not-for-profit Podback scheme sought to collect and recycle Pret A Manger’s aluminium at-home coffee pods via drop-off points or kerbside recycling, while Sainsbury’s adopted the same metal to package its own-brand coffee pod range in the hopes of increasing home recycling rates.

This year, AIMPLAS, the Plastics Technology Centre, manufactured a plastic film from used coffee grounds, set to be used in flexible packaging in an effort to encourage the conversion of urban biowaste at scale.


News & Updates

Is simplifying sorting the key to creating a circular economy for plastics?

In order for plastic packaging to become truly circular, it’s crucial that the sorting of post-consumer packaging is as efficient and consistent as possible. How can the industry make this happen? Professor Edward Kosior, CEO and co-founder of Nextek and NEXTLOOPP, tells us more.

Technology is a double-edged sword. Whilst we are increasingly capable of deploying innovative tech that positively shapes the future this needs to be countered with the knowledge that technology alone will not solve all our challenges. Staying ahead of the curve is, without doubt, an appealing principle but it should not blind us to simpler solutions that already exist to achieve immediate and cost-effective results. 

In this instance, I am referring to the raft of novel technologies now available to sort post-consumer plastic packaging. There appears to be some confusion around which technology will deliver the best results – my advice to decision-makers is to clarify what their end goal is for the packaging they are placing on the market.

Certainly, we all agree that nothing should be produced that does not have a pre-determined, sustainable lifecycle built-in. This is simple enough, although it does require a quantum shift from the old produce, use, and discard model. With this in mind, all packaging that is being produced needs to be embedded with an effective sorting mechanism that recyclers can readily and rapidly adapt to.

Simplifying plastics recycling to make it faster, cheaper, and better

Contrary to popular belief, achieving this does not require over-sophisticated technology – recyclers do not need screeds of data to inform them of the entire life journey of the product.

First and foremost, recyclers must be able to sort packaging into single polymer fractions such as PET, HDPE, PP and LLDPE. The technology to achieve this is neither complex nor expensive, furthermore, it is plug-and-play ready and is complementary to existing NIR (Near Infrared) technology recyclers are already using. It can easily be adapted to most sorting facilities around the world to target those specific recycling streams.

The next priority is to sort these polymers into food and non-food packaging fractions. This urgently-needed step will have a considerable impact on boosting the supply of valuable recycled resins and provide an alternative to virgin plastics.

Simple sorting of plastics

So, if we are to focus on producing packaging that is truly easy and simple to recycle what is the primary area we need to address?

Pigments are possibly the most contentious yet easily reversible element of today’s packaging. Imagine defining product categories by the colour of their plastic containers instead of by a wide range of brand cues.

In this scenario, only a small range of colours would be acceptable – such as all food products contained in natural or white packaging, those brands in the non-food sector in pastel colours – thereby using smaller concentrations of pigments – and hazardous products in black plastic.

Sorting by transparent/pastel/black colouration of packaging is very simply achieved by the use of well-established, accurate and relatively low-cost automatic sorting technology using the visible light spectrum and cameras for detection.

What are the advantages of this simplification of plastics sorting?

All automatic sorting and manual sorting systems could immediately adopt this protocol globally without delay and without expensive capex or plant alteration.

The speed and yield of sorting would be boosted due to the simplicity of the sorting and the purity of food-grade packaging could be instantly assessed and quantified. Products from garden/paint/automotive applications could be instantly separated from recycling streams. Visible colours could be used to code other parameters such as Melt Flow Index.

Shedding the colours of the actual pack would reduce masterbatch costs and the design cues could be on the label (with self-peeling or dissolvable glue) or sleeves.

This simplifying scenario would rapidly result in the simple separation of food-grade plastics without expensive and complex sorting equipment and would boost recycled content levels, making high-quality recycled material more plentiful and less expensive.

And the actual brand recycling story would finally be authentic.

Simple but effective

This may sound simplistic, but this is precisely why it would work so well. Ultimately coloured plastic packaging is much harder to recycle economically than clear plastic since there is little demand for the resulting “recycling grey” that we get when we mix colours. And, it is also very easy to unscramble the colours via sorting equipment, producing a range of colour variants to suit brand owners for re-use back into new packaging.

So, this brings us back to brand designers aligning with their sustainability targets by relinquishing their need for branding by colour – in effect this change would flip the recyclability of their packaging around.

The sledgehammer and nut scenario

So where is the resistance? Why the reluctance to embrace a simple, cost-effective solution that has the potential to make a fundamental difference in our post-consumer waste crisis?

One of the biggest global challenges we face is resistance to change – because – indeed – to enable the simpler recycling procedure to rapidly scale-up, brand owners do need to make a few – simple – changes to their packaging.

The choice, of course, is theirs, but I fear that our over-reliance on technology as a cure-all is leading many to believe only a sledgehammer will crack the nut.

Busting a flawed perception

The perception that technology will enable brand owners to continue producing packaging without making any changes is fundamentally flawed. If we create multiple sub-categories of packaging in response to the belief that sorting will have the capacity to create narrower fractions of materials then the economics will diminish, issues of cross-contamination will increase, and the entire recycling sector will suffer.

Having a tsunami of data that is primarily designed to inform marketers of how their brands are performing would be overkill for recyclers who would also have to absorb the cost to re-fit their recycling plants to adopt this new and expensive technology. Brand owners too would have to invest far more in the sophisticated technology than it would cost them to make changes to their packaging.

This is one instance where, over-sophisticated, costly technology risks reducing rather than enhancing efficiency where it is most needed.