Mondelēz makes progress on UK Plastics Pact, as initiative warns of key challenges

Mondelēz International has reported key progress as part of its environmental improvement measures as part of the UK Plastics Pact, as the collaborative industry venture expresses broader concerns that ‘there is still a long way to go,’ in attaining overall targets, writes Neill Barston.

The snacks and confectionery group noted it was proud to be playing its part alongside major manufacturers and retailers as part of the pact, led by British-based NGO WRAP, which has tasked governments and industry to significantly reduce their impact on the environment.

Consequently, the organisation’s third annual report, detailed achievements including those of Mondelēz International, as it moves towards achieving net zero waste packaging globally.

The initiative features a broad cross section of industry, including number of other major sector businesses for the collaboration, including Nestle, Mars, General Mils, Haribo, Hotel Chocolat, pladis, and supermarkets and retailers including Boots, Aldi, Asda and Sainsbury’s and Tesco.

For its part, Mondelēz has noted significant progress has been made against its global commitments and the UK Plastics Pact targets. This includes investing £21 million across the globe in technology, resources and recycling infrastructure to help create a more sustainable future for its plastic.

Among its core initiatives have been in eliminating problem plastics, achieved with measures such as its cheese brands Dairylea and Philadelphia moving to 100% recyclable packaging in the UK and Ireland. It has also removed around 487 tons of Polystyrene in Philadelphia Mini Tubs and Handi Snacks and reducing virgin plastic needed by 276 tons per annum for Dairylea Lunchables.

The company also cut over 6.4million plastic windows from their Cadbury chocolate shell eggs this Easter. This move is part of the company’s ‘Pack Light and Pack Right’ strategy and its ongoing efforts to remove, reduce, replace and ensure recyclability across its portfolio.

Under Target two of the Plastics Pact – 100% of packaging to be reusable or recyclable, the report highlights the company’s involvement in the Flexible Plastic Fund alongside other retailers and FMCG leaders. An initiative of manufacturers and retailers committed to improving flexible packaging recycling in the UK and boosting the nation’s recycling infrastructure.

The fund is designed to drive progress towards household collection of flexible plastic for recycling and plays a vital role in incentivising the recycling of plastic bags and wrapping through a guaranteed minimum price for packaging recovery notes. Longer term – the initiative is working with UK Government to ensure that flexible film is included in kerbside recycling from 2023, when a new harmonised waste collection service across the UK is expected.

To further improve UK recycling rates the company are also partnered with OPRL – the most recognised labelling system in the UK – making significant progress towards providing on pack recycling information to consumers by 2025. Under target three the company’s efforts were also emphasised – to increase use of recycled content up to 30%.

The report also highlights the upcoming packaging innovation for Cadbury Dairy Milk sharing bars to contain 30% recycled plastic – rolling out in 2022. Previously the company also announced that, as of the end of 2022, its cheese brand Philadelphia, will become the first segment brand to pioneer the use of chemical recycling. This represented an important step in the company’s goal to reducing its impact on the environment and its commitment to using 5% recycled content across all plastic packaging by 2025.

These UK sustainable packaging initiatives also contribute to Mondelez International’s global target of eliminating virgin plastic materials in the company’s overall plastic packaging portfolio by 5% by 2025, assuming constant portfolio mix.

Under the report,  other key contributions from confectionery manufacturers were highlighted, including Nestlé UK & Ireland, as it redesigned its confectionery sharing bags to use significantly less packaging. Narrower pouches for its brands including Milkybar, Aero Bubbles, Munchies, Rolo, Yorkie, and Rowntree’s Randoms will save 83 tonnes of plastic, the equivalent in area of 131 football pitches.

Meanwhile, Premier Foods has moved Mr Kipling, Cadbury and Plantastics flat pack slices from polystyrene to PET, meaning 250 tonnes of plastic is now recyclable. The trays also now contain at least 50% recycled plastic.

Speaking on its achievements, Kelly Farrell, Sustainability Communications manager, at Mondelēz International said: “We’re proud to be members of the UK Plastics Pact and that they have acknowledged our efforts, but we recognise there is still more to do. We’re committed to working towards finding innovative solutions and working in partnership with WRAP and Pact members to tackle the complex challenges of plastic waste and reduce the demand on natural resources.”

Introducing the latest Plastics Pact report, Marcus Gover, CEO of Wrap, welcomed progressed made by businesses, but stressed there was still a considerable challenge ahead in tackling the issue.

He said: “Pact members should rightly take the plaudits for this progress, and we are grateful for their continued commitment to The UK Plastics Pact. The truth is though, that the overall picture remains a mixed bag. We still have a long way to go, and an ever-shorter timeframe to get there.

“There is still too much plastic packaging being used where it could either be safely removed, substituted, or alternative options offered to consumers – exploring how this can be done without displacing the environmental cost elsewhere is a priority for WRAP and the Pact. I remain concerned that if we don’t seriously up the pace on tackling plastic bags and wrapping – reducing it where possible, recycling it where needed – then it threatens to derail our ambition.”


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