GLOBAL – Kraft Heinz, the fifth-largest food and beverage company in the world, has made a commitment to combat plastic pollution by pledging a “critical” reduction of 20% in the use of virgin plastic before 2030.

This ambitious move has become a “critical step” in decreasing its use of fossil fuels and finding more environmentally sustainable product packaging options, broadening its sustainability strategy aimed at minimizing its environmental impact and promoting a more circular economy.

The change is estimated to reduce the use of approximately 100 million pounds (45 million kg) of virgin plastic compared to the 2021 baseline – the equivalent of nearly five Eiffel Towers in weight.

“To achieve our ESG goals, including to reach net-zero GHG emissions, we can’t continue to do things as we have in the past,” said Rashida La Lande, executive vice president, global general counsel, and chief sustainability and corporate affairs officer at Kraft Heinz.

“We are investing in innovative technologies and partnerships that are critical to helping us redesign packaging, eliminate unnecessary plastic, increase our use of recycled content, and influence the adoption of reuse models. This is one more way we’re renovating our product portfolio to not only offer more sustainable options but to deliver on our consumer expectations.”

Kraft Heinz said it is building on existing work with the US, Canada, and UK Plastic Pacts to increase the use of recycled content in its packaging.

The company seeks to replace 15% of its US PET rigid plastic packaging portfolio with post-consumer recycled content by 2025.

Additionally, Kraft Heinz has partnered with specialists in the United Kingdom to create recyclable Heinz Beans Snap Pots that are food safe and made with 39% recycled plastic as they are created from soft plastics that customers returned to the British multinational groceries and general merchandise retailer Tesco PLC.

The company also moved to 30% recycled content in most of its bottles from Brazil, the United Kingdom, and Europe.

It further plans to transition the packaging of its Real Mayo and Miracle Whip products to 100% recycled content in the United States starting in 2024 to eliminate approximately 14 million lbs of virgin plastic.

Second, Kraft Heinz launched an environmentally friendly Heinz multipack paperboard sleeve to replace plastic shrink wrap in the United Kingdom, eliminating more than 1 million lbs of plastic in 2022.

The company also took its “first step toward a sustainable future” last year, effective across its full product portfolio, when it removed the plastic “shaker” bag from its signature Shake ‘N Bake packaging to assist in eliminating 900,000 lbs of plastic waste annually.

A third area of focus for Kraft Heinz revolves around exploring material alternatives such as fiber-based packing, hoping to use these innovations for other packaging formats in the coming years.

In 2022, Kraft Heinz said it is working on a pilot with the packing technology company Pulpex to create a paper-based, renewable, and recyclable bottle made from 100% sustainably sourced wood pulp for Heinz Tomato Ketchup, which it said is “a first in the sauce category.”

The company currently is testing the prototype to assess performance before launching the bottle on the market.

Meanwhile, in Canada, Kraft Heinz replaced its non-recyclable flexible plastic Nabob coffee bags with recyclable canisters made from 80% renewable paper fiber this year, which is estimated to eliminate approximately 2.5 million plastic bags annually.

To ensure progress and transparency, Kraft Heinz plans to regularly report on its plastic reduction initiatives and collaborate with stakeholders, including environmental organizations, government agencies, and consumers.

Plastic pollution has become a global environmental challenge, with millions of tons of plastic waste entering oceans, landfills, and ecosystems each year.

The negative consequences on wildlife, marine life, and human health are becoming increasingly apparent, underscoring the urgency for corporations to take proactive measures.

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