More and more often global and huge brands have to deal with the environmental impact of their packaging and must seek sustainable solutions, because it is perceived by consumers and public opinion as increasingly necessary.
In the last five years sustainability is one of the reasons that inspired several brands to use flexible packaging. But it is not the only one. Often reducing the costs, saving materials and energy for the production of the package (which are both economic and environmental benefits) and also a better efficiency in transport of goods and the need to comply with the consumers’s habits play as well important roles.
Whether the brands structurally change their packaging or whether they carry out specific experiments in some product lines, in any case every action towards finding another type of packaging is worthy of reflection. If global brands feel confident in changing their packaging, it means that new standards are emerging for packaging. Flexible packaging is one of these new standards, and the impact of these changes is enormous.
Today we will see how some big brands have chosen flexible packaging instead of a traditional one, on small or large occasions.
Starting in 2015, the US giant of the cereal industry began to use flexible packaging for some of its products, a solution that was relatively unexplored at that time.
The savings of material, lower costs and greater efficiency are probably the advantages that led to this choice. In fact, stand up pouches, compared to the now iconic cardboard boxes, are able to contain more product, making packaging certainly more efficient (here we explain these and some other advantages of flexible packaging better).
In 2017 MorningStar Farms, a vegetarian brand owned by Kellogg's, decided to switch from rigid packaging to flexible bags, with the aim of differentiating its brand and offering the consumer the opportunity of resealable packaging.
The environmental impact of the packaging of a company like Kellogg's is still remarkable and some critics doubt the company's goal of making its packaging 100% sustainable by 2025. An important step in this direction, however, was the launch in 2020 of the new flexible packaging for Bear Naked cereals: a fully recyclable stand-up bag. The packaging, awarded for its low environmental impact, is the first solution for this type of product implemented by a large brand in the United States.
Heinz is another food giant that, very recently, started using flexible and resealable packaging for some product lines. An example is the famous ketchup in different sizes, designed both for the final consumer and as a large refill for restaurants and other operators in the gastronomic sector.
In this case, the choice of flexible packaging significantly reduces product waste and represents a more sustainable choice than classic plastic packaging, increasing the value of the brand for the consumer.
The recycling of these plastic bags takes place only under certain conditions - only mono-material bags, we explain it here -, Heinz showed that it also wanted to commit itself to finding new solutions by recycling used packaging for roofing in two of the brand's American factories.
In 2018, the Italian multinational Ferrero chose flexible packaging for Nutella Biscuits, the product that marked the entry of the famous brand into the world of biscuits.
The packaging - which visually binds strongly to the Nutella brand - consists of a stand-up pouch with a resealable zip in order to protect the product from external oxygen and preserve it effectively.
ASOS, the UK apparel e-commerce, has decided to reduce rigid cardboard packaging and use more flexible plastic packaging. The decision was made after a lifecycle environmental footprint assessment showed that, in that context, flexible packaging would produce 60% fewer greenhouse gases.
The company's goal is to increase the use of recycled plastic for used packaging (currently around 80%) and to encourage the reuse of the package by proposing to the consumer to send it back to the company.
The Swiss multinational Nestlé has also set itself the goal of making all its packaging recyclable by 2025.
In an attempt to move beyond the rigid packaging of one of the company's most famous products, Nesquik soluble cocoa, in 2019 Nestlé launched a particularly innovative flexible packaging for the Nesquik All natural line. It is a stand up pouch made of coated paper and completely recyclable.
In 2020, in Japan, the Mini KitKat changed the packaging: also in this case Nestlé used a new flexible packaging, in recyclable paper, with a marketing gimmick: once the product is discarded, the packaging can be used to make an origami.
In Japan alone, switching to a greener wrapper for mini KitKats - of which around 4 million packs are sold per day in the country - should reduce around 380 tonnes of plastic each year.
image: Patagonia Provisions
Patagonia is a famous outdoor clothing brand, known for its particularly environmentalist positions. For the Patagonia Provisions sub-brand, dedicated to sustainable nutrition, the company has chosen to use mainly flexible bags, in particular for foods subject to rapid deterioration.
The flexible packaging, in fact, manages to prevent very well oxygen and humidity from damaging the product. This and other reasons that led the brand to use these packs are explained in great detail by the company itself in a section of its website.
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