Heinz squeezed into pulp bottle innovation

Condiment king Heinz reckons a new paper bottle for its sauces can help it meet its net-zero targets. The carbon footprint of the packaging is “materially less than glass and plastic on a bottle-by-bottle basis” the company said in a statement. What that means isn’t quite clear (standard industry practice is to make such claims in public and keep the life cycle assessment secret). How the bottle is lined is also a mystery. All Heinz will say is that it’s “a spray and is PET-, HPDE- and BPA-free”.

Shareholder activists have put the squeeze on Kraft Heinz recently, forcing it to commit to a virgin plastic reduction target (the PET bottles it sells in Europe are made from 30% recycled content). The paper alternative is some way off, though. “We are in the very early stages of our work with Pulpex, so cannot share a launch date at this time,” Kraft Heinz told Just-Food. Pulpex, involving drinks giant Diageo, is also behind the plastic-free paper bottle for whisky that created a stir in 2020 but has yet to appear on shelves or in bars (2023 is the date now being targeted). 

The innovation will get plastic and paper packagers warring – fun to watch but probably a waste of time. Also doing battle is Europe’s non-alcoholic beverage industry which, together with NGOs Zero Waste Europe and Changing Markets Foundation, has raised concerns that rPET (recycled polyethylene terephthalate) is being sucked up by other industries, like textiles, and downcycled. “Breaking the loop’ (a loss from the circular bottle stream) goes against the very principle of circularity,” said UNESDA soft drinks Europe director general Nicholas Hodac. 

Zero Waste Europe, which recently flagged holes in the recycling system for PET bottles (see February’s Package), called on the EU to define “high quality recycling”, in which the materials are “preserved or recovered so as to ensure they can be re-used in products with the same market value”. Those turning crisp packets into traffic cones have been warned.

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