Innovation and research to protect the planet
Reducing the use of virgin plastic and replacing single-use packaging with sustainable, recyclable or recycled materials are two of the main ways to reduce environmental impact.
Experimenting with new compostable materials for cutlery, take-away packaging, glasses and straws means constant research and development and a strong focus on the Food&Beverage industry’s guidelines, especially regarding food safety.
To meet the needs of consumers increasingly concerned about sustainability and at the same time achieve concrete results in line with new national and international legislation, the Group has for years been experimenting with innovative solutions to optimize use of packaging and reduce virgin plastic by using more sustainable packaging materials.
Objective: limit the use of single-use plastic
In 2022, the Group stepped up its commitment to reduce its use of single-use plastic. Currently, 57% of the single-use packaging it purchases – in North America and the six main European countries in which the Group operates – is made of non-plastic materials.
The end of the pandemic emergency played an important role in achieving this result, in that it enabled the Group to start using washable and reusable tableware and containers again, thus reducing its use of single-use packaging.
Significant progress has been made in Europe.
Netherlands and Belgium
Amsterdam Schiphol Airport is a virtuous example: in 2020 it started selling Vrumona Sourcy mineral water in bottles made of 100% recycled plastic. In the Netherlands in general, as in Belgium too, 100% of all single-use articles purchased by the Group in 2022 was totally plastic-free or rPET.
Switzerland, France and Italy
Similar initiatives have also been launched in North America, where the Group has set itself an ambitious target that will have a positive impact on the environment: by 2025, it will use only compostable, recycled or recyclable packaging. This project means gradually introducing foam plates and compostable straws to replace single-use plastic products, so that, by the end of 2022, 43% of packaging will have been replaced by alternative solutions with lower environmental impact.
Also in North America, there has been close collaboration with Biolo, a company that produces alternatives to plastic. This has made it possible to introduce straws made of PHA, a plant-based alternative material that’s biodegradable and compostable.
To make its actions in North America even more effective, the Group launched an awareness raising campaign - “Skip the Straw” - to disincentivize use of single-use plastic straws and embarked on significant collaborations with high profile partners to increase the percentage of recycled plastic bottles, as in the case of Naked Juice, the first American company – with national distribution – to produce fruit juices and smoothies in 100% recycled plastic packaging.
Ongoing commitment to a more sustainable tomorrow
Efforts made to date have undoubtedly created an excellent platform for building on our sustainability results. This means that the Group will in any case have to continue its constant exploration of innovative and sustainable new packaging solutions.