Plastic waste is a massive problem for us and our planet, with over 8 million metric tons entering our oceans each year. The COVID-19 pandemic has only intensified the situation even more, as people go through millions of disposable masks and gloves, along with single-use restaurant takeaway containers.
Thankfully, there are many big-name consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies that are switching from plastic to paperboard-based bottles and packaging, including Diageo, Unilever, PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, and Heineken UK.
Richard Slater, the Chief R&D Officer at Unilever, said:
We believe in tackling plastic waste through innovation and collaboration. We are going to halve our use of virgin plastic at Unilever, reducing our use of plastic packaging by more than 100,000 tonnes in the next five years. Joining forces [with companies like Diageo] to develop and test paper bottles is an incredibly exciting step forward, and we’re delighted to be working together to tackle one of the biggest environmental challenges of our time.
In July 2019, PepsiCo announced that it had joined the consortium of global CPG companies, including Unilever, to develop further and scale the first recyclable paper bottle in the world, produced initially by Diageo and Pilot Lite.
Simon Lowden, PepsiCo’s Chief Sustainability Officer, said:
Innovative solutions and partnerships are critical to driving meaningful progress toward a circular economy. The Pulpex consortium is well-positioned to deliver sustainable packaging at scale and across industries, having an impact beyond what any organization could achieve alone. We’re proud to be a part of it.
PepsiCo’s mentioned that the company is working on “innovative solutions with peers pre-competitively through partnerships like this with Pulpex.” PepsiCo is also working together with NaturALL Bottle Alliance on the development of a renewable bottle, Danimer Scientific on compostable & bio-based flex films, and the Carbios Consortium on enzymatic recycling.
In 2021, PepsiCo plans to test its branded paper bottles, based on Pulpex Ltd.’s technology and design.
Innovative Eco-friendly packaging design is one of Coca-Cola’s core principle’s in its World Without Waste Strategy.
On Aug 11, 2020, Coca-Cola European Partners (CCEP) announced the introduction of the company’s paperboard packaging solution for multi-pack cans in Spain, dubbed CanCollar. The innovative CanCollar will replace the Hi-Cone plastic that’s currently being used and will “save more than 18 tonnes of plastic annually.”
Coca-Cola is collaborating with an Atlanta, Georgia-based company called WestRock, which produces paperboard packaging solutions, to roll out the CanCollar solution. In November of this year, CCEP plans to launch the CanCollar paperboard can ring technology in the Balearic Islands.
As a bonus, CanCollar is certified by the Program for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC).
Joe Franses, CCEP Vice President of Sustainability, said:
The agreement with WestRock exemplifies our clear commitment to reducing plastic in our secondary packaging. By the end of 2020, we will have removed more than 4,000 tonnes of hard-to-recycle plastic from our secondary packaging in Western Europe. It’s through collaborating on innovative packaging solutions like CanCollar that we are able to do this.
Heineken UK is replacing plastic rings connecting their bottles of beer with an eco-friendly paper-cardboard topper to hold those cans together.
On Aug 17, 2020, Heineken announced its new 100% plastic-free paper-cardboard packaging dubbed the Green Grip. The new packaging will first be used by brewers on multi-packs of Heineken, Kronenbourg 1664, and Foster’s, before being launched across the company’s entire line of beverages.
Between the Green Grip and the removal of plastic wrapping on consumer packs, Heineken will abolish more than 517 tons of plastic per year.
PEFC is an alliance of national certification systems. Releases of new paperboard products highlight the fact that they are certified by PEFC, to ensure the buyer’s comfort, to know that the trees being used for the product come from well-managed forests. If it says it’s PEFC certified, it means that no trees were harmed in the making of the product.
While switching out plastic rings, bottles, or packaging, may seem like tiny changes, if enough companies follow suit, these small changes could add up and make a drastic impact on our planet.