Single-serve coffee pods are convenient, which makes them popular in the workplace. But they pose environmental problems because they produce massive amounts of waste — most are not fully recyclable — and consume natural resources in the manufacturing and packaging processes.
To address these issues, Mars Drinks, which provides coffee to offices and other workplaces, has developed a new design for its single-serve packaging that has a 31 percent carbon footprint reduction.
Engineering firm WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff verified the carbon footprint reduction after conducting a life cycle assessment according to international standards (ISO 14044:2006 Life Cycle Assessment), which analyzed the environmental impact of the packaging across all stages of production — from raw material extraction through distribution.
Mars Drinks is the workplace focused division of food and candy giant Mars. Mars Drinks global president Xavier Unkovic said the redesign of the single-serve packaging, called Freshpack, represents a major sustainability milestone for the company.
“Our single most important sustainability priority over the next five years is solving the waste challenge for workplaces around the world that choose Mars Drinks,” Unkovic said in a statement.
To achieve the carbon footprint reduction, Mars Drinks says it considered upstream environmental factors. It re-examined the whole Freshpack production process and identified the raw material extraction of aluminum was the most significant contributor to the carbon footprint of the raw materials in the pack.
By removing aluminum, Mars Drinks reduced emissions from the raw material extraction by 40 percent. The new packaging maintains its predecessor’s benefits, preserving freshness and eliminating flavor cross-over from one drink to the next, the company says.
The company will also continue its Recycle Your Freshpacks program, offering North American customers a way to divert 100 percent of Freshpacks from landfills. Since 2011 Mars Drinks has achieved a 312 percent increase in its customers diverting Freshpacks from landfill.
Mars Drinks produces the new packaging for the North American market at its West Chester, Pennsylvania factory. The parent company invested in a wind farm in Texas, which generates the equivalent amount of energy required to power all of Mars’ operations in the US, including the Mars Drinks West Chester campus.