The rise of big brand sustainability

sustainable packaging

In part 3 of our Sustainability Series we look at how supermarkets and mainstream brands in the food and drink industry are making sustainable changes.

Pressure on big brands

Greenpeace claims that Coca-Cola produces around 100 billion plastic bottles per year – making it one of the biggest producers of single-use plastic packaging in the world. Alongside Creative Agency, Lovers, they put together a “brand jamming” campaign to pressurise the company to rethink its recycling strategy. It worked. Coca-Cola has since announced an ambitious sustainable packaging goal called World Without Waste. For every bottle or can they sell, they aim to match those numbers in waste collection and recycling by 2030.

Greenpeace Art & Editorial Co-ordinator Marcela Teran says the campaign has achieved Greenpeace’s objective of making Coca-Cola acknowledge their role in the issue: “there are still some things they need to improve – but they’re in conversations with us now which is what we wanted.”

Coke’s senior director of environmental policy Ben Jordan says, “The issue of packaging waste – and specifically marine debris – is more visible, and more of a threat to our planet, than ever. The world has a packaging problem, and we – like other companies – have a responsibility to help solve it….”

Big brands making changes

It’s not just Coca-Cola that is recognising its environmental responsibilities.

McDonald’s has announced that by 2025 100% of their packaging will be sourced from renewable and recycled materials. They’ll also commit to recycling all guest packaging in their restaurants worldwide.

Nestlé Pure Life, the world’s leading bottled water brand, aims to change the game with their new 100% recycled plastic 700ml water bottles.

PepsiCo has announced its ambition to design 100% of its packaging to be recyclable, compostable or biodegradable, increase recycled materials in its plastic packaging, reduce packaging’s carbon impact, and in partnership with the PepsiCo Foundation, work to increase recycling rates by 2025.

P&G has created a new shampoo bottle made from 100% waste retrieved from the ocean or shoreline. Their hope is that by creating a circular economy, where waste is converted back into usable products, it will help to reduce the roughly eight million tons of plastic that have currently ended up in the world’s oceans.

sustainable packaging

What are supermarkets doing?

Following the Government’s recent 25 Year Environment Plan, Theresa May has called on supermarkets to introduce plastic-free aisles and consider taxes and charges on single-use plastic items like food containers. Amsterdam is leading the way for the rest of the world, as they unveiled their ‘plastic-free aisle’ in supermarket chain, Ekoplaza (February 2018). A Plastic Planet campaign group worked with London studio, Made Thought, to launch the aisle and create a special plastic-free logo, which they hope will be replicated in stores across the globe. Whilst all major UK supermarkets are making claims that they are working towards combating the ‘scourge’ of plastic, Greenpeace have suggested retailers should:
  • Eliminate all non-recyclable plastics from own brand products
  • Remove single-use plastic packaging for own brand products
  • Trial dispensers and refillable containers for own brand items like shampoos, house cleaning products, beverages
  • Push national brand suppliers to eliminate non-recyclable plastics and to stop using single use plastic packaging
  • Install free water fountains in-store and water re-fill stations
  • Support deposit return schemes in-store
  • Trial reusable packaging and product refills via home deliveries