As a global business with a diverse portfolio of confectionery, food and pet care products, we know packaging plays an important role in ensuring we can bring our products safely to consumers around the world. While we’re proud of our products, we are deeply concerned about the impact of packaging waste on land and in the ocean.
That’s why we’re rethinking our approach to packaging today: to create a world where packaging doesn’t become waste. As part of our Sustainable Packaging Plan, we’re taking action to redesign our packaging portfolio to reduce the packaging we don’t need, and to redesign the packaging we do need to ensure it’s reusable, recyclable or compostable.
Innovations we’re implementing now:
Sometimes simple innovations can make a big difference given our scale. That’s why we’re redesigning our packaging to cut down on the plastic we don’t need across our portfolio. Mars Wrigley's reduction of plastic in the packaging of some of our most popular brands in the UK is a perfect example. By redesigning the pouches to be narrower, not only will we be saving 51 tonnes of plastic per year, it also means for some brands we are able to fit more packs into boxes we ship. This allows us to reduce unnecessary packaging in more than one way.
We’re also trialing innovative re-use programs to minimize our use of packaging. One example is our Mars Petcare brand Perfect Fit™ which has been part of the Loop™ Initiative, an e-commerce platform that replaces single-use plastic packaging with durable, reusable packaging. Launched in September 2019, consumers in Paris can purchase Perfect Fit 1+ cat food online and receive a week’s supply in a sleek, stainless steel container, which can be reused and refilled for future orders.
We’re redesigning the packaging that we do need, so that it can be recycled where infrastructure exists. In the U.S., our Mars Wrigley team recently launched the Orbit® Gum 30-piece Mega Pack, a more sustainable option featuring an outer plastic package designed to be recycled in roughly half the U.S. recycling streams, with more locations to follow. The back of each pack also features an on-pack guide from How2Recycle®, a standardized labelling system that clearly communicates on whether and how to recycle each part of the pack.
Our Mars Wrigley team in Germany recently debuted a new EXTRA® gum bottle with 30% rPET (recycled Polyethylene terephthalate), a move that will save 343 tons of virgin plastic in Germany per year. This builds on last year’s switch to the “Future Bottle,” moving from High Density Polyethylene to PET in the German market. These changes are part of our Hero Projects, an ongoing Mars Wrigley program in Europe that tests alternative and sustainable packaging solutions.
Another place you can see our Hero Projects in action: France, where our Mars Wrigley team recently launched a new M&M’s® Choco 300g pouch, where we simplified the design and structure of the pouch by using only one type of plastic material. The result? Flexible plastic packaging which can be recyclable according to the existing local packaging waste collection and sorting system.
Similar redesigns are happening across our business. Already in its initial pilot phase, Mars Food has launched the first food-safe, mono-material microwavable rice pouch in select European countries, with learnings to inform a wider rollout in the year ahead.
Additionally, at Royal Canin we have simplified the design and the structure of pet food bags through piloting our first flexible mono-material packaging for dry dog food in some European countries, which will be recyclable where the infrastructure exists.
We are also incorporating recycled plastic into the primary packaging for some of our popular pet food brands. This is an important step in our work to reduce the use of new, virgin plastic across our portfolio. By purchasing and using recycled content in our packaging, we’re helping to create a demand for recycled materials and encouraging investment into recycling systems. This packaging is already being introduced as test and learns across some of our SHEBA pouches in Europe, and through that is supporting the qualification and scale-up of the chemical recycled resin industry.
Biodegradable packaging is also an innovation we’re investing in. Through a two-year partnership, Mars Wrigley and Danimer Scientific will develop innovative home compostable packaging for our iconic treats and snack.
We understand there is no one-size-fits-all solution for packaging; developing new packaging solutions for our global business is a complex task. We operate in over 80 countries—each with their own waste systems and different abilities to effectively collect, sort and recycle packaging. Our packaging needs to protect the quality and safety of our food products, while also working with the different local recycling infrastructures in each of our markets and local regions.
These are challenging issues; however, we are committed to driving change and meeting our goals to use 100% reusable, recyclable or compostable packaging by 2025.