Mars restates sustainability pledge after missing packaging target in 2015

By Douglas Yu

- Last updated on GMT

Mars is evaluating materials through a life-cycle assessment
Mars is evaluating materials through a life-cycle assessment

Related tags Recycling Sustainability

Mars is working on packaging developments including a ‘fresh pack’ without an aluminum layer after missing its goal of making 100% of its packaging recyclable or recoverable by 2015.

In its recent report Principals in Action (PIA), Mars revealed it has made 89% of its packaging recyclable and recoverable – and this week told ConfectioneryNews it is determined to keep improving.

“It is our goal to make every package made by Mars more sustainable,”​ said Rachel Goldstein, Mars’ global sustainability director for scientific and regulatory affairs.

Activity has included the launch a project last year to make flexible plastic films for Snickers bars out of potato waste material. The wrapper underwent a five-month pilot in Germany, France and the Netherlands last year after being tested and receiving funding from the EU.

Food contact regulations

“Other than the interesting raw material, the packs are completely normal,”​ Goldstein said. “They comply with food contact regulations and can be used on conventional food packaging machines.”

She added that reducing the materials used – such as creating a fresh pack without an aluminum foil layer – was part of plans to reduce waste, but pointed out that reducing materials does not necessarily make packaging recyclable.

“The pouches we use in pet care use significantly less material, but are not recyclable in current infrastructure,”​ Goldstein said. “But even the smallest differences, like reducing the number and thickness of laminate layers, add up to huge reductions.”

Reducing packaging weights

Mars is also cutting down packaging weights and reducing the material used in microwaveable pouches for Uncle Ben’s ready-to-heat rice.

The business reduced its packaging weight by 5.2% in total, according to the PIA report, below its 10% target.

But Goldstein pointed out that that recycled content in Mars packaging had almost doubled from 21.3% to 38.5%.

“We’ve gone way beyond our target for recycled content,”​ she said.

Life-cycle assessment

Mars is currently evaluating new packaging options using life-cycle assessment to ensure any progress it makes doesn’t do harm anywhere else. By that, Goldstein added, “we are rethinking our packaging materials entirely, ensuring that they are still cost effective and durable​.”

In addition to its internal efforts to make packaging more sustainable, Mars is seeking partnerships with suppliers, universities and other industry experts. The business is a member of Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s New Plastic Economy Initiative and the Sustainable Packaging Coalition.

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