According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, 311 million tonnes of plastic are produced each year, the equivalent of more than 900 Empire State Buildings. Annually, 8 million tonnes of this plastic enter our oceans.
Packaging is a considerable contributor to this issue, however it also plays an important role in food quality, safety and reducing food waste. But this isn’t an either/or proposition. In my role I am responsible for leading a team that drives cutting edge innovation. That includes looking at how packaging can protect our foods, deliver the quality that people expect from us, while also supporting a more sustainable future.
We are incredibly motivated to be part of the solution. At Kellogg, we’re wasting no time in working toward our goal of using 100 percent reusable, recyclable or compostable packaging by the end of 2025. Our goal aligns to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s (EMF) New Plastics Economy Global Commitment, which we were among just a handful of food companies to sign on to in 2018.
Doing so is part of our global Kellogg’s Better Days® commitment to create better days for 3 billion people around the world by addressing the interrelated issues of food security, climate resiliency and well-being.
Already, more than 97 percent of our timber-based packaging that goes into cereal and other boxes comes from either recycled or certified-sustainable content. And we’re speeding up our efforts. For example, although plastic packaging is just one part of our overall packaging mix, we’ve already ensured that 32 percent of what we use globally is recyclable. And we have many projects in the works to ensure that we achieve our 2025 sustainable packaging goal.
Around the world, our approach to reducing waste with more sustainable packaging includes three tenets:
EXCLUDE certain items and materials,
REDUCE packaging across our portfolio, and
REDESIGN our packaging to be recyclable or compostable.
In 2018, we transitioned to compostable paper foodservice products in all our plants and offices … no more plastic and no more single-use foam. In our U.S. operations in Illinois and Michigan alone, we diverted 2 million pieces of silverware, 105,000 straws and 110,000 bottles from landfill every year.
We’re also removing the plastic spoons from our joyböl™ granola smoothies. Once this is complete, no Kellogg food packaging will use plastic forks, knives, straws, stirrers, polystyrene or oxo-degradable plastic.
Over the years, we’ve significantly reduced the amount of material in our cereal boxes and other packages. We’ve reduced flap sizes, eliminated excess air and introduced other innovations to make our packaging better for the environment.
Currently, we have some instances where we bulk ship cereal in reusable bins from the production facility to the final destination where it is packed into pouches or bag-in-box packages. This happens with our granolas and cereals in multiple regions. In Africa, India, China and Australia, we’ve significantly reduced packaging using this approach.
In the United States, Bear Naked® recently launched new, store drop-off, recycle-ready packaging for their granolas and granola bites. The new packaging includes a “Store Drop-Off” logo and website link to help people find a nearby recycle drop-off location. All Bear Naked granolas and Bites varieties will adopt this packaging going forward. We’ve had similar success in the U.S. reducing packaging in our MorningStar Farms® veggie foods by moving to resealable bags. As an added benefit, the bags help fight freezer burn, which reduces food waste.
Most importantly, we’re looking at breakthrough packaging innovation by considering sustainability right from the start. We’re excited about the opportunities to deliver for people, our customers and the planet.
As we continue to exclude, reduce and redesign, we’re also encouraging more recycling and partnering on new technologies. For example:
In Australia, we include the Redcycle logo on our cereal bags. At the Redcycle website, people can easily find the location of their nearest drop-off location. A similar effort is underway in the U.S., where we include the How2Recycle label on most of our packages.
In the U.K., Pringles® launched a partnership with TerraCycle to collect and recycle its cans. And in Malaysia, our local waste collector converts rejected Pringles® cans into corrugated paper.
In Mexico, we are piloting a project to replace PET packaging with material that can more easily be crushed into pellets and recycled.
Kellogg India is piloting an innovative project with waste management company Nepra Environmental Solutions in Pune, Maharashtra. Together, we’re developing a system to collect and dispose of multilayer plastic (MLP) waste. Nepra purchases MLP from the local waste-sorting workers and turns it into fuel for cement kilns.
More than 110 years ago, the very first box of Kellogg’s cereal was created with recycled content. So using sustainable packaging is part of our DNA. Today, the people of Kellogg are proud to be taking this commitment to the next level. While we don’t have all the solutions, we’re hard at work researching, collaborating with partners, and piloting new approaches to keeping our foods safe and fresh while also protecting the planet. You can learn more about our efforts here