The Kraft Heinz Company is making progress against goals related to improving packaging sustainability, according to their second-ever Environmental Social Governance (ESG) Report, which was published this week.
Kraft Heinz’s first ESG report came out in 2017, and included commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, energy and water usage, and waste to landfill. The company also vowed to improve sourcing throughout the value chain.
In 2018, Kraft Heinz set a goal to make 100% of their packaging recyclable, reusable, or compostable by 2025. They reported forming a partnership with the environmental consultancy group Lorax EPI to understand how much of their packaging falls into those categories. The partners estimate that more than 70% of Kraft Heinz packaging does, as of 2019.
“During the period from 2017–2019, we eliminated approximately 13 million pounds of packaging across almost a dozen initiatives with key brands such as Lunchables, Kool-Aid, and Miracle Whip,” Kraft Heinz said. “We reduced shipping packaging and tray heights and dividers for example, accounting for an annual packaging reduction of about 6.5 million pounds.”
Another packaging commitment the company set is to create a fully circular Heinz Tomato Ketchup bottle in Europe by 2022. The idea is to have a bottle that can be turned back into food-grade packaging. Kraft Heinz said that they are on track to deliver the circular ketchup PET bottle to the market ahead of schedule, in 2021.
“Initial estimates for 2021 on this initiative which will span Europe, is that it will impact approximately 300 million bottles at an average weight of 28 grams per bottle,” according to the company. “That equates to 8,400 metric tons of plastic that can be properly collected and sorted and then mechanically recycled into food grade rPET, which can be used to produced new food grade packaging.”
The company appears to lag behind its industry peers on reducing plastic pollution, however. In June, the corporate social responsibility advocacy nonprofit As You Sow published a report called “Waste and Opportunity 2020: Searching for Corporate Leadership” that measured the progress of 50 large companies in the beverage, quick-service restaurant, consumer packaged goods, and retail sectors on six areas where “swift action is needed to reduce plastic pollution.”
As You Sow gave Kraft Heinz an overall grade of D- for “no goal for cuts in overall plastic packaging use or in use of virgin plastic packaging, no goals on reusable packaging, no goals on recycled content, no plastic use data disclosure, and no support for producer responsibility.”
“Companies must prioritize a shift away from wasteful single-use packaging and move toward circular models that prioritize significant, absolute reductions in overall use of plastic, as well as promote reusability, recyclability, or compostability in their packaging,” the nonprofit said.