News & Updates Sustainability

Food-Grade Recycled Polypropylene is Poised for US Intro

The NextLooPP initiative’s success and breakthroughs across the Atlantic and an FDA Letter of No Objection to 14 companies bode well for food-grade PP recycling on American shores.

At a Glance

  • Research suggests PP residual contamination levels one-tenth of HDPE milk bottles and one-hundredth of PET.
  • 2024 trials of recycled PP achieved food-grade purity levels exceeding 95% in packaging applications.
  • New performance standards and an automatic sorting technology breakthrough will ease market acceptance.

In May 2023, we published an article in Packaging Digest announcing the NextLooPP initiative’s success with food-grade recycled polypropylene (rPP) in the UK and EU, and our decision to replicate that success in the Americas. Since launching the project in 2020, 53 participants across the plastics supply chain have steadily broken through most of the barriers to producing recycled food-grade polypropylene (FGrPP) from post-consumer waste. We continue to share our science-based findings and expertise with US organizations.

Since that 2023 article, the FDA has given its Letter of No Objection (LNO) to 14 companies in North America, Asia, and Europe to use their recycled resin products for food-contact packaging. Yet, so far, there is no information or publicity on applications of recycled food-grade Polypropylene (PP) resin that are actually being used in food-contact packaging.

It didn’t take long to understand why, given that PP is just embarking on its recyclability journey. If we consider the most widely recycled polymers to date — PET and HDPE — their recycling journey was not an immediate overnight success, either.

I recall when we were first producing food-grade rPET (in the UK) there was considerable reluctance to its use in food-contact packaging, and it required extensive trialing before being adopted for standard production. Now this is an everyday occurrence.

Related:Polypropylene Recycling Venture Sets 2023 Launch in the Americas

PP is currently going through the exact same phase.


Recycled food-grade PP is at the starting gate.

PP accounts for more than 20% of global plastics production and food packaging is one of its primary products. In the USA PP is one of the most converted polymers with a market share of about 20% (in 2018) yet it is also one of the least recycled (3% to 5%) mainly due to its use in non-bottle packaging, such as cups, tubs, and trays.

To understand why recycled food-grade PP resin is still dithering on the sidelines, even with an LNO, we need only check PET and HDPE’s first, tentative recycling steps. The reticence to accept a new resin’s safety is wholly understandable.  It comes from a lack of experience and awareness that this food-grade recycled material can be safely used in consumer food-contact packaging.

The challenge with recycled polypropylene (rPP) is that until now it has not been possible to accurately differentiate between PP packaging that once contained non-food products from those containing food. Consequently, FGrPP has been limited to closed-loop recycling, hand sorting or advanced recycling technology processes based on mass balance (which is not yet recognized as recycling in the EU).

Characterizing residual contamination levels in rPP.

Progress is rapidly catching up, however, through science-based explorations to close the loop on post-consumer food-grade PP. Achieving this has meant methodically addressing every roadblock along the way and diving into the specific sorting and decontamination requirements for the recycling processes for PP. This led to NextLooPP’s investigation to determine the residual contamination levels of post-consumer PP packaging, which up until now, have never been characterized.

A lack of data showing the misuse/mis-selection rate within PP feedstocks prevented any reliable way of defining the residual levels that could potentially migrate into food, and any understanding of which molecules to target via decontamination processes. NextLooPP’s study aimed to identify substances that might cause samples of rPP to be outliers from the expected input stream that could represent challenges to the final safety of the recycled plastics. The key issue was to check whether the substances observed could potentially be genotoxic.

Considerations include the shape of the package.

Although being olefinic, the packaging format of consumer PP packaging reduces the chances of it being in such a consumer-misuse scenario. A large proportion of PET packaging is relatively durable, with a tight closure, making it a container of choice when used for storing hazardous materials. Likewise, HDPE packaging is also in bottle form with a closure meaning it, too, may be used in such a scenario. PP food containers, on the other hand, are less likely to come in bottle form and much more likely to be pots, tubs, or trays with limited closure capability, making them a less likely candidate for consumer misuse.

Characterizing the residues in post-consumer packaging that have been sorted into mono-polymer fractions was done by analyzing and testing multiple batches of food and non-food samples to see what molecules are present and if there are any areas of concern.

To achieve this, our team of scientists worked on 20-tonne (US 22.5-ton) batches of PP bales sourced from a UK-based materials recovery facility (MRF). Using automatic optical sorters to separate color fractions of natural (clear), white, and colored articles, each color fraction was hand-sorted to separate articles from food and non-food applications.
The analytical study involved 700 tests, representing approximately 17,500 different PP packs based on 25 significantly sized flakes per test. This was estimated to be a cross-sectional representation of 7% of the packs from the combination of batches of 260,000 packs.

Following this contamination study, researchers characterized the contamination levels in PP, concluding that they are on the order of 10 times less than that which we expect in HDPE milk bottles; and 100 times less than that expected in PET. This is not surprising given the applications that select PP as the packaging material.

“Finding validated local end-of-life solutions for post-consumer food-grade PP packaging has been the driving force behind NextLooPP’s participants.”

New food-grade resins challenge the status quo.

This study marked a turning point in the NextLooPP project, giving us the confidence to use our PPristine food-grade rPP resins in food-contact packaging.

The performance standards we have now developed will enable us to help organizations reach a high level of technical performance as well as commercial and legal confidence in food-grade rPP. By deploying NextLooPP’s expertise and technical backup, we aim to license the technology to ensure that the resin standards can be fast-tracked into US-produced rPP food-grade packaging.

Finding validated local end-of-life solutions for post-consumer food-grade PP packaging has been the driving force behind NextLooPP’s participants, who continue to produce and trial a range of unique grades of high-quality food-grade recycled PP resins produced using Nextek’s patented PPristine decontamination technology.

Commercialized trials prove the concept.

Eighteen of NextLooPP’s brand and converter participants have now finalized 55 commercialization trials using five PPristine resin grades: Natural food-grade IM, Natural food-grade, White food-grade, Mixed Color food-grade, and non-food grade Mixed Color INRT. The results have been outstanding. For example, trials using 30% of PPristine resins in both extrusion and thermoforming trays achieved product quality comparable with the virgin products with no changes in processing conditions.

Breakthroughs lead the project toward the finish line.

The multi-participant project fine-tunes resin quality standards that are poised to become standard for food-grade recycled PP, and the success continues.

Sorting trials conducted in February by NextLooPP together with Tomra Recycling have confirmed a major breakthrough in the automatic sorting of food-grade PP packaging. The trials combined Tomra’s near-infrared visual spectrometry and GAINnext deep-learning technology. The trials achieved food-grade purity levels exceeding 95% in packaging applications. This is an exciting development and an invaluable boost to the NextLooPP project.

The technology has the potential to be rolled out to all PP packaging sorting facilities and will help produce valuable food-grade, post-consumer recycled PP streams. By providing a sorted food-grade PP PCR stream, GAINnext will enable the NextLooPP decontamination process to be carried out in many more recycling operations globally.

After nearly four years of intense collaboration, the NextLooPP participants are now breaking down the final barriers to producing food-grade recycled PP from post-consumer packaging into new circular economy products, and the initiative is looking forward to launching the NextLooPP Americas project to achieve similar outstanding results.


News & Updates Sustainability

Algae’s Remarkable Role in Sustainable Packaging’s Future

Cutting-edge algae-based bioplastics could revolutionize sustainable packaging (and beyond) while meeting consumer and regulatory demands.

At a Glance

  • Innate biodegradability and renewability make algae an ideal solution to traditional plastics’ environmental issues.
  • Applications include water bottle replacement, food wrappers, drinking straws, and condiment sachets.
  • The global bioplastics market is projected to rose from $8.14 billion in 2021 to $18.05 billion by 2027.

Algae, once primarily associated with marine ecosystems, is emerging as a game-changer for sustainable packaging solutions. With the escalating global concern over plastic pollution and the urgent need for eco-friendly alternatives, algae-based packaging has stepped into the limelight — and is not leaving anytime soon.

Below, we’ll explore how this remarkable resource is transforming packaging, why startups are investing heavily in it, and the immense potential algae holds for the future.

The science behind algae-based packaging

Algae refers to a diverse group of aquatic organisms possessing remarkable properties that make them an ideal candidate for sustainable packaging. They can be cultivated rapidly, requiring minimal nutrient input and obtaining energy from sunlight. Algae can thrive in saltwater and even wastewater, reducing the strain on freshwater resources. This adaptability makes them a cleaner alternative to traditional raw materials.

At the heart of algae-based packaging lies its innate biodegradability and renewability. This edge makes it ideal for food packaging and a viable solution to the environmental woes caused by traditional plastics. Algae also absorb atmospheric carbon during growth, further reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Remarkably, they contribute to approximately 70% of the oxygen in the Earth’s atmosphere.

Related:PLA a Prescription for Sustainable Healthcare Packaging

As a packaging material, algae-based polymers offer comparable functionality to traditional plastics while presenting a sustainable end-of-life solution through compostability and biodegradability.

The rise of algae-based packaging

The global algae market is rapidly growing as new uses for algae are continually discovered, generating about $1 billion in sales each year. Here are various innovative applications for algae and seaweed as alternatives to plastic, showcasing their potential to revolutionize packaging and other industries:

  • Notpla’s Ooho water pods: Notpla’s Ooho is one of the most prominent examples of algae-based packaging. It’s a seaweed-based edible and biodegradable water pod. It’s a sustainable solution used in conjunction with reusable bottles and has gained significant attention at major events. Over 30,000 Ooho pods were distributed to runners during the 2019 London Marathon, replacing thousands of plastic bottles and substantially reducing plastic waste.
  • Evoware’s biodegradable food wrappers: Indonesian startup Evoware has developed biodegradable food wrappers made from seaweed. These wrappers are used for packaging various products, from coffee to cookies to soap. The materials are edible, biodegradable, and home-compostable, ensuring they can safely return to nature without harming wildlife.
  • Loliware’s seaweed-based straws: U.S.-based Loliware has created seaweed-based straws designed to replace single-use plastic straws. Unlike paper alternatives, they maintain their structural integrity for up to 24 hours after getting wet. While edible, Loliware straws will naturally degrade in the environment within two months.
  • MarinaTex’s fish waste and algae packaging: London-based startup MarinaTex has developed a bioplastic film made from fish waste and red algae. This innovative material is designed for use in packaging and has been awarded the James Dyson Award for its potential to reduce plastic pollution. This bioplastic is stronger than LDPE (low-density polyethylene) and decomposes in four to six weeks under home composting conditions.
  • Skipping Rocks Lab’s condiment sachets: Skipping Rocks Lab — the creators of Ooho — has also developed an eco-friendly alternative to single-use plastic packets for condiments and sauces to reduce plastic waste in the food industry. These seaweed sachets biodegrade within six weeks.

The potential for long-term impact

The potential for algae-based packaging to make a significant long-term impact is immense, driven by continuous advancements in research and technology. Ongoing improvements in extraction and processing enhance algae-derived biopolymers’ properties, making them more viable for various applications.

The role of algae in sustainable packaging is poised to expand exponentially as the urgency to combat plastic pollution intensifies. Packaging leaders can harness algae’s inherent properties to spearhead the transition toward a more sustainable and eco-friendly future.

The global bioplastics market, valued at $8.14 billion in 2021, is projected to reach $18.05 billion by 2027, with a CAGR of around 14% from 2022 to 2027. Despite a slight decline in global plastic production, bioplastic demand is rising steadily, driven by technological advancements, increased research and development, and expanding applications.

The rapid growth of the bioplastics market underscores the economic and environmental benefits of sustainable packaging solutions like algae-based materials. Algae require minimal resources to grow and significantly contribute to carbon sequestration. These advantages position algae-based packaging as a scalable, eco-friendly alternative to traditional plastics, addressing environmental concerns and market demands.

Embracing a sustainable future

By embracing algae-based packaging, companies can capitalize on bioplastic technology advancements while meeting consumer and regulatory sustainability demands. Integrating algae-based solutions promises a future where packaging is functional and environmentally responsible.

Incorporating algae-based packaging into your company’s sustainability strategy reduces environmental footprint and positions your brand as a leader in responsible practices. Explore this cutting-edge technology to enhance your product offerings and contribute to a greener future. Your proactive steps today can set the standard for sustainable packaging in the future.

News & Updates Sustainability

Bottled Water Microplastics Litigation Is Making a Splash

Plaintiffs argue companies that make and sell bottled water have violated consumer protection statutes by labeling their bottled water as “natural” when the products allegedly contain microplastics.

Class actions involving bottled water is on the rise as attention focuses on chemicals and plastics in food packaging (in particular, PFAS and microplastics). Following studies in 2018 and 2019 and a fresh February 2024 Consumer Reports study, microplastic litigation should be on every consumer packaged goods manufacturer’s radar. While there is no consensus within the scientific community on harm caused by microplastics, the plaintiffs’ bar has chugged its drink and ran straight to the courthouse.

Plaintiffs across the country, with nearly identical allegations (and for some, the same plaintiff), are not bottling it in anymore. They argue companies that make and sell bottled water have engaged in a host of consumer protection statutory violations by labeling their bottled water as “natural” when the products allegedly contain microplastics. So far this year, we have seen five class actions brought against bottled water manufacturers seeking to certify nationwide and state-specific subclasses.

Without scientific consensus on the impact of microplastics, or guidance from the Environmental Protection Agency or FDA on the presence of microplastics (nor the definition of “natural”), defendants are left to draw analogies to other trending litigation, such as PFAS and glyphosate claims, to challenge these claims. In similar litigation, defendants have found some success in arguing that the FDCA preempts migratory substances like PFAS from disclosure as an ingredient. Likewise, courts have recently found that a “natural” claim could not lead a reasonable customer to believe there are no “accidental or innocuous amounts” of glyphosate in a product. These types of challenges could support dismissal as defendants attempt to put a lid on claims in the bottled-water battle.

Of these five cases, plaintiff Dotson voluntarily dismissed both complaints in April. The other cases are in various stages of motion to dismiss briefing. We’ll watch out for future splashes and keep you updated.


News & Updates

Redesign Punches Up Canada Dry’s Packaging

A packaging update for the classic brand adds modern appeal while paying homage to the brand’s long history.

At a Glance

  • It’s the first packaging redesign for Canada Dry in 14 years.
  • The new graphics leverage long-standing visual branding elements.
  • A new flavor joins the Canada Dry product family.

Keurig Dr Pepper (KDP) has refreshed the US packaging graphics for its iconic Canada Dry brand for the first time since 2010, infusing the 120-year-old brand with contemporary energy.

The new packaging design rolled out in May 2024, shortly after the launch of a new entrant in the product lineup, Canada Dry Fruit Splash. Cans and multipack cartons for the entire portfolio of Canada Dry products are moving to the new design.

The new, more contemporary package graphics signal relaxation and comfort while retaining familiar brand elements. Canada Dry’s familiar crown and shield and its green-gold-red palette are still central to the pack design. The brand refresh was conducted together with design agency CBX.

“The crown and shield convey the brand’s long-standing history and leadership position in ginger ale. We knew it was important to maintain these key equities, but the goal was to translate them into a more modern and timeless design,” says Chris Cook, director, CBX.Canada-Dry-Fruit-Splash-Family-slide.jpg

New: Fruit Splash, a new permanent offering, will allow the brand to broaden its appeal. Image: Keurig Dr Pepper

To learn more, we asked Allison Kapp, senior brand manager, Canada Dry, a few questions about the project. Discover the details in this exclusive Packaging Digest interview.

Why did KDP choose to do a brand refresh for Canada Dry now? 

Kapp: The brand recognized an opportunity to improve its on-shelf presence. Best known for being a beverage to relax and unwind with, we pursued these attributes in a more impactful way to stand out on the shelf. 

What elements of the packaging graphics did you change, and why? 

Kapp: The comprehensive brand refresh touches all Canada Dry products with all-new graphics across Ginger Ale, mixers, and seltzer water. It is the first update to the brand’s signature style in the US since 2010.  

The new logo is a simplified version of the more detailed previous map design. By simplifying the logo to a white background within the shield, we can command stronger breakthroughs.

The design team used inspiration from the map inside the shield to create a new background pattern that cues refreshment through effervescence in motion.

Condensation replaces bubbles from previous packaging to represent the effervescence and refreshment that comes from drinking a Canada Dry.

How do the new graphics evoke the 120-year history of the brand?

Kapp: The new graphics blend familiarity with modernity and retain the meaningful visual elements that bridge the brand’s history — the iconic crown and shield plus its signature green, gold, and red color palette — with a significantly more modern look and feel.

The new graphics also brought back the ligature between the C and A letters that was present before 2010. 

KDP partnered with design agency CBX on the refresh effort.CBX added new sparkle while respecting heritage design cues

These ‘before’ images show how CBX added new sparkle while respecting brand’s visual heritage. Image: Keurig Dr Pepper

How do the new graphics cue relaxation and comfort? 

Kapp: With both the effervescence in motion line work and condensation, the new graphics cue the relaxing and refreshing nature of the product that consumers have come to expect and love. These elements introduce dynamism into the design that helps it to break through and capture consumer attention. 

Were there any structural changes to the packaging? 

Kapp: No.

How many cans are in the Canada Dry multipacks? 

Kapp: Multipacks vary in size and flavor, from six to 12 to 24. 

Did you test the new flavor, Canada Dry Fruit Splash, in the market before adding it as a permanent stock-keeping unit? If so, where and when did you test, and for how long? 

Kapp: Canada Dry Fruit Splash — a new permanent flavor offering — did undergo consumer testing. Results were strong for the product’s ability to broaden the appeal of ginger ale to allow us to reach more drinkers.

Is this a global packaging redesign for Canada Dry? 

Kapp: The packaging refresh will impact the United States only. 


News & Updates Sustainability

This Water Bottle Diverts Ocean-Bound Plastic

In partnership with rePurpose Global, the sale of each Chlorophyll Water bottle supports the equivalent recovery of one ocean-bound plastic bottle.

For plastic litter, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of recovery. That describes the notion of diverting ocean-bound plastic by collecting plastic bottles before they ever reach the water.

The latest bottle brand to wade into the greener waters of preventive sustainability is Chlorophyll Water, a uniquely formulated, green-colored functional water. 

With the brand’s new partnership with rePurpose Global, the sale of each bottle supports the diversion of the the equivalent of one ocean-bound plastic bottle. This ocean-bound plastic is then recycled, reducing the need for virgin plastic.

rePurpose Global is a major Plastic Action Platform that has recovered more than 25 million kilograms/27,558 tons of plastic waste from the environment to date, protecting vulnerable coastal regions across the Americas, Africa, and Asia.Chlorophyll_Water_Buyone_Saveone_2024-720x450.png


Chlorophyll Water has gone deeper into sustainability over the years since the beginning. It debuted in 2019 in biodegradable plastic bottles. In October 2023, it switched to 100% recycled PET bottles. In that same move to rPET, the brand selected CleanFlake label technology from Avery Dennison to optimize the recyclability of the bottles.

Chlorophyll Water was also the first bottled water in the US tested for heavy metals, pesticide residues, and plasticizers to pass stringent Clean Label Project certification.

“Chlorophyll Water is committed to sustainability and using technology to lessen packaging’s environmental impact,” says Matt Levine, founder. “By originally launching in landfill-biodegradable bottles and recently transitioning to 100% recycled plastic bottles, we aim to significantly impact the plastic waste issue and reduce the use of virgin, fossil-fuel-based packaging. Our partnership with rePurpose Global further supports this progressive mission by preventing ocean plastic pollution with every bottle of Chlorophyll Water sold.”


News & Updates

Sun Branding designs packaging for Goodfella’s new Grande pizza

Sun Branding has designed packaging for Goodfella’s new Grande ‘midweek sharing pizza’.

It was tasked with enhancing the sharing experience for consumers.

Stacks of plates, dip bowls, and the pizza being sliced and ready to share out were the focus.

Additional inspiration came from wall-painted signage found whilst wandering through old Italian streets.

Matt Fish, senior designer, Sun Branding, said: “We wanted to create the energy and love of family and friends gathering to share a meal together, on the packaging. Subtle use of propping helps suggest that the pizza, although the main focal point, is only part of the bigger picture and the table is set for everyone to tuck in and enjoy the feast! Fresh colour palettes and elongated shadows help capture the provenance and warmth of those sunny Italian days and create a sense of joy and happiness.”

Louise Grace, cluster marketing manager, Goodfella’s UK & Ireland, said: “The Sun Branding team brought a crafted feel, and dialled up the Goodfella’s Italian-American personality through the design. We loved the kick-off workshop, it streamlined the design process and allowed us to launch against a tight deadline.”


News & Updates

Hunter Luxury provides exquisite wooden pack for Glenglassaugh Distillery

Hunter Luxury has partnered with Jack Daniel’s owner Brown Forman and Glenglassaugh Distillery to create a wooden pack for the launch of a limited line of whisky – The Serpentine Coastal Cask Collection.

The luxury bespoke packaging design and development specialists opted for a design that was an exquisite box made with hand-carved oak, crafted to display a unique wave shape.

The design represents the North Sea waves and the patterns of the driftwood that so often washes up on the beach, a stone’s throw from the distillery.

The wood has been hand-painted to draw out the deep grain of the oak, complementing the naturalistic curves of the wave design. while each black box features a unique plaque detailing its cask number and the customer it was bottled for.

The wood grain pattern and the plaque combine to ensure each box is utterly unique and deeply personal to each customer.

Paul Hamilton, head of wine & spirits, Hunter Luxury, said ‘every element’ of the final design was entirely bespoke, and tailor-made for this project.

The doors of the case were sealed with a heavyweight medallion made from a cast zinc alloy, decorated with a blue enamel and gold design that was precisely colour-matched to every other decorative element within the case.

“The packaging evokes feelings of the tides of change experienced over the decades of maturation with the bespoke, wave-like design.”

The exterior of the black case is decorated with delicate gold lettering showing the age of the whisky inside, and a metal plaque showing the cask that it was expressed from.

To mount, Hunter Luxury used a bespoke, sustainably-produced woven fibre material lined with an opulent microfibre faux suede.


News & Updates

Amazon replaces plastic air pillows with paper for delivery packaging in North America

Amazon has replaced 95% of the plastic air pillows from delivery packaging in North America with paper filler, and aims fully remove these by the end of the year.

The e-commerce giant said it is ‘constantly inventing and thinking big to make our packaging small’, and wants to use as little packaging as possible to’ avoid waste, and prioritizing recyclable materials’.

This is part of Amazon’s path to avoid and reduce packaging, a multi-year effort to remove plastic delivery packaging from North America fulfillment centres.

It will avoid nearly 15 billion plastic air pillows annually.

Pat Lindner, VP of mechatronics and sustainable packaging, said: “I’m proud of the cross-Amazon collaboration to make a positive impact on the customer delivery experience with easier to recycle materials. It’s a great example of how we thoughtfully test and scale new solutions to protect our customer experience. We are working towards full removal in North America by end of year and will continue to innovate, test, and scale in order to prioritize curbside recyclable materials.”


News & Updates

The story behind Maggi’s new plastic-reducing noodle packaging

Earlier this year, Nestlé’s Maggi brand launched a new packaging format designed to cut down on plastic pollution. The noodles can now be prepared at home in a mug, as opposed to being prepared in the packaging itself. To learn more, we spoke with the team at Nestlé Australia.

For readers who may have missed the initial announcement, I think it might be useful to give an overview of this project. What exactly is happening?

Maggi has made a positive change to a well-known product – encouraging noodle lovers to ‘BYOM’ (Bring Your Own Mug) with the Maggi Mug Noodle. With a noodle cake designed to go straight into a standard at-home bowl or mug, Maggi Mug Noodles use 83% less plastic packaging per serve than traditional Maggi Cup Noodles.

At Nestlé, we’re always looking for ways to reduce our use of virgin plastic. After noticing that many noodle lovers prefer to enjoy their noodles in a bowl or mug, instead of the plastic cup, we reconsidered the need for cup packaging.

Research confirmed that over half of Australians consume instant noodles at home or in the office using a mug or bowl. With this in mind, we aimed to create a product that provides a sustainable alternative while maintaining convenience.

Nestlé frequently experiments with different kinds of packaging formats – from boosting recycled materials and recyclability, to reuse schemes. My question: why was “reduce” chosen for this specific project, as opposed to “reuse” or “recycle”?

We aim to reduce our use of virgin plastic by a third by 2025 versus our 2018 baseline. To contribute to this goal, we challenged ourselves to think ‘outside the cup’ on how we could best deliver the same great product in new, innovative packaging.

In combination with this new packaging format, we also help our noodle lovers to recycle properly by including on-pack recycling instructions. Each part of the product’s packaging features information to help consumers know whether the packaging can be recycled or if it needs to go to landfill.

What has consumer response to this project been like so far? And was any consumer research undertaken before making this change? If so, what were the results?

We know that using less plastic in our packaging matters to consumers and the concept tested well. While it is still early days on-shelf, we are seeing positive momentum.

How does this new pack fit in with Nestlé’s overarching packaging sustainability goals?

At Nestlé we aim for 95% of our plastic packaging to be designed for recycling by 2025, so when we removed the large plastic cups from the original product we remained focused on ensuring that all remaining packaging components are designed to be recycle-ready – the cardboard box, soft plastic wrappers and the flavour sachet.

What does the future hold for Nestlé in terms of projects like this – could more packaging reduction be on the cards?

As we work towards a waste-free future, our teams will continue to look at how cleverly designed packaging and innovative materials can play a part, without compromising on quality, flavour, or cost.


News & Updates

Amazon replaces 15 billion plastic air pillows with paper filler annually

95% of the plastic air pillows used in Amazon’s North American delivery packaging have been replaced with paper filler, the company claims, with a complete phase-out expected by the end of the year.

Amazon states its aims to prioritize recyclable materials and use as little packaging as possible to avoid waste without compromising the safety of the product in transit. Apparently, its current efforts will avoid nearly 15 billion plastic air pillows every year and contribute to the company’s goal of removing plastic delivery packaging from its North American fulfilment centres.

The company’s first automated fulfilment centre in the USA was announced last October. There it had swapped plastic air pillows with paper filler, and the company was able to test the feasibility of this solution and, eventually, implement it into all its North American packaging.

In order to make the transition, Amazon’s teams collaborated with suppliers and sourced paper that, according to the company, is made from 100% recycled content. This was coordinated across other fulfilment centres, with the company aiding employees in changing machinery and hosting employee trainings for the new systems and machines.

The paper filler was tested by Amazon, including an assessment by a third-party engineer lab. According to the results, it provides “the same, if not better” product protection than plastic air pillows; it is also thought to contain 100% recycled content and be recyclable at kerbside, meaning consumers can dispose of their packaging via household recycling streams.

“I’m proud of the cross-Amazon collaboration to make a positive impact on the customer delivery experience with easier to recycle materials,” said Pat Lindner, VP of Mechatronics and Sustainable Packaging. “It’s a great example of how we thoughtfully test and scale new solutions to protect our customer experience.

“We are working towards full removal in North America by end of year and will continue to innovate, test, and scale in order to prioritize kerbside recyclable materials.”

“I’m so excited we’re changing over to paper,” added Christian Garcia, fulfilment Associate at the BFL1 fulfilment centre in Bakersfield, California. “It’s not only easier to work with, but the machinery gives us more space so it’s easier to pack orders. And I’m proud to be a part of a change that allows customers to recycle at home.”

Amazon believes that, in 2022, 11% of its packages shipped globally were not delivered in additional packaging thanks to its Ships in Product Packaging programme. We recently spoke to the programme’s global lead, Kayla Fenton, to learn more about the ideas behind the project, the ins-and-outs of the process, and where it is expected to go in the future.

Another reported outcome of the programme is that one in two of the retailer’s European shipments are now delivered without additional box packaging. Over 50% are now said to arrive in reduced, recyclable deliver packaging like paper bags and cardboard envelopes, if any extra packaging is applied at all.

In other news, Flöter Verpackungs-Service GmbH received a WorldStar Packaging Award under the e-commerce category for its PaperWave Bio paper air cushions, which are FSC-certified biodegradable and made from 100% recycled paper.

The company’s PaperWave box would go on to be nominated for a Sustainability Award last year, falling under the commercialised E-commerce category. According to the company, the company claims it reduces the cushioning material inside the box by 40%.