Mars’ three-pronged strategy for sustainable packaging success

By Tingmin Koe

- Last updated on GMT

Bins for collecting different types of materials for recycling.  © Pixabay
Bins for collecting different types of materials for recycling. © Pixabay

Related tags Packaging sustainable Plastic Recycling

Confectionery giant Mars has three underlined its three strategies for sustainable packaging - materials and design innovation, recycling infrastructure, and consumer behaviour.

It earlier announced that it was working towards 100% recyclable packaging by 2025.

“For packaging to be recycled, the materials used must be recyclable, there must be infrastructure in place to collect and recycle those materials, and consumers must dispose of packaging materials responsibly,” ​David Kiu, VP Corporate Affairs, Mars Wrigley Confectionery, Asia-Australia, Middle East & Africa, told FoodNavigator-Asia.

In terms of materials and design, he said that a top priority was to ensure the optimisation of the amount and type of packaging used on the products.

For example, this includes minimising the packaging materials through using lighter or thinner materials.

However, Kiu noted that this approach could pose recycling challenges. As such, the company uses a design and analysis approach to ensure that reduction in total packaging impact does not compromise product safety or increase food waste.

He added that the firm was exploring new innovations such as pyrolysis – the thermal decomposition of materials at elevated temperatures in an inert atmosphere – through the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s New Plastics Economy.

“By heating materials from recycled packaging to high temperatures to drive chemical decomposition we can ultimately reuse it as packaging in a circular loop,”​ he said.

Besides Mars, a research conducted by The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) showed that developing environmentally safer products is a top R&D priority​ for Asia’s food leaders.

Countries wise, environmentally safer packaging is of greatest concern for India, Indonesia, and Thailand in Asia.

Consumers’ role

Meanwhile, a multi-stakeholder approach, including the involvement of consumers, is needed to drive the developing of recycling product packaging.

“Consumers are getting more informed and engaged when it comes to issues relating to our planet and increasingly getting more educated on the plastics issue. We see that this trend will only increase with time,” ​Kiu said.

“We believe that this issue is a shared responsibility that requires multi-stakeholder solutions. Consumers too have a part to play by responsibly disposing used packaging responsibly.”

One of the latest initiative is Loop, a first-of-its-kind shopping system designed to help consumers “responsibly consume a variety of products in customised, brand-specific durable packaging that is then collected, cleaned, refilled and reused.”

The initiative was announced at the World Economic Forum in Davos this year, with over 250 consumer goods companies partnering with TerraCycle to change the world’s reliance on single use packaging. 

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