Our packaging strategy has two clear goals – full recyclability and the phase-out of fossil-based virgin plastic by 2030

Towards full circularity in packaging
Ensuring the safety and quality of our products through shelf life requires the use of complex packaging types. Infant formula, for example, must retain its high microbiological quality, nutritional profile and functionality for anything up to two years in storage. For this reason, our commitment to replacing fossil-based virgin plastic is one of the biggest challenges we face to achieve the objectives of our packaging strategy.

We continue to work towards two primary goals: to ensure all our own-brand packaging is recyclable by 2025 and to phase out fossil-based virgin plastic by 2030. The group-level ambition is that all packaging materials – paper, cardboard, plastic and metal – should be fully circular in 2030.

With regard to the recyclability of materials, we are close to achieving our target. The limitation is the need to ensure the suitability of food-contact materials. At present, there is still no alternative to an inner layer of virgin plastic. We continue to explore possible solutions in collaboration with our parent company.

Closed loop recycling
In 2022, new EU legislation created an opening for closed loop recycling of food contact plastic. This requires careful control and processing in a dedicated plant to prevent cross-contamination with non-food packaging. We see this is an interesting opportunity and are currently discussing feasibility with customers and our big bag supplier. Performance, food safety standards and commercial viability must all be secured before closed-loop recycled plastic can become a reality.

With regard to non-food contact packaging, however, recycled plastic already shows good potential. Tests are now complete on stretch film made from 51% post-consumer recycled plastic. The film will be implemented as pallet wrap in the near future.

Focus on circular value
Following a 2021 evaluation of all our existing packaging materials, we have begun investigating ways to increase their circular value. A primary initiative in 2022 has been to change the colour of the plastic inner liner in our small bags from dark blue to light blue, as this makes it easier to recycle. Coloured plastic is important to our customers, who can then see any plastic fragments that get into our product when the bag is opened. The light blue plastic remains highly visible, ensuring no compromise in food safety.

Phase-out of safety caps
For consumer products that are filled into cans, we use a plastic safety cap with a tamper-evident strip, which is torn away when the cans are opened. To reduce our plastic use and the risk of these small strips entering the environment, we are in the process of replacing the safety caps with an alternative snap-on lid. Compared to 2020, which was the last full year of using safety caps, the phase-out will cut plastic consumption by an estimated 30 metric tons a year.

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