Mars Confectionery Announces Plans To Use Recycled Plastic For Pet Food Packaging

Large corporations globally are continuing to launch innovative and sustainable ways to be more environmentally conscious. The latest of these is Mars. As one of the biggest confectionary brand names in the world, many may be shocked to learn they own some of the largest pet food companies too. Pedigree, Whiskas, and Royal Canin are all owned by the conglomerate company.  In a bid to reduce plastic pollution within the company, Mars has pledged to use recycled polypropylene plastic for their pet food packaging. Collaborating with Huhtamaki, packaging supplier, and SABIC, a petrochemical company, Mars have been working on a new recycling process for pet food packaging.  This is part of Mars’ Sustainable Packaging Plan, which promises 100% recyclable, compostable, or reusable packaging by the year 2025.  SABIC’s recycling process is unique in its ability to process mixed, used and hard to recycle plastic and turn it into food-grade recycled packaging.

Explanations From The Three Sides Of The Partnership

Mars’ chief procurement and sustainability officer, Barry Parkin, explains the shift in packaging: We need to reduce packaging we don’t need, redesign the remaining packaging to become circular and invest to close the loop to help scale up recycling systems.” This circular system will be central to this three way collaboration with Mars, SABIC, and Huhtamaki. Mark Vester, SABIC’s global circular economy leader, explains how: “SABIC’s certified circular products from our TRUCIRCLE portfolio offer a carbon footprint reduction of 2kgs of CO2 for every kilogram of polymer produced diverted from incineration.” Huhtamaki’s president and chief executive, Charles Héaulmé, said “Our strategic partnership with Mars and SABIC is a great example of how collaboration can result in breakthroughs that deliver significant progress in our journey to designing 100% of our products to be recyclable, compostable or reusable by 2030. This new flexible packaging structure with recycled food-grade plastic is an important milestone on our journey towards achieving more than 80% of raw materials we use to be either renewable or recycled.”

Implications On EU Imports

This comes at a good time for UK importers of Pedigree, Whiskas, and Royal Canin. The UK government has recently announced plans for a new tax on plastic packaging.  Imported and internal packaging with less than 30% recycled will come with a £200/tonne tax, filled or unfilled. The government explained their motivation behind the draft legislation was to give a clear economic incentive for businesses to reduce their consumption of non-recycled plastic packaging. The policy is expected to be enforced in April of 2022.  While Mars’ decision, as a global corporation, to switch to recycled plastic probably wasn't a result of a UK government tax legislation change, the former will undoubtedly influence the latter. Supermarkets and other pet food importers will have reduced costs on import taxes.  Mars plans to expand this new recyclable plastic packaging scheme to all of their brands within the next year, including their confectionary brands Mars/Milky Way, Twix, Orbit, and Galaxy.