Page 16 - Food & Drink March 2020
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Closing the loop
For a company with a large variety of packaging formats, driving a sustainability agenda is not for the faint-hearted, but Mars Food Australia is stepping up to the challenge. Kim Berry writes.
ON the Central Coast, just north of Sydney, Mars Food Australia (MFA) is tackling the challenge of building a circular economy for all its packaging.
MFA is one segment within the Mars business, a stable of companies still family-owned and with more than a century- old history of products and services for people and pets.
Its brands include: Masterfoods; Dolmio; Uncle Ben’s; Seeds of Change; Kantong; Tasty Bite; and Promite. That range of products means MFA has more than
14 different types of packaging, ranging from glass to soft plastics. Some of the packaging solutions are quite complex, like
the almost iconic single serve squeeze-on sauce, compulsory with any pie or sausage roll.
That pack is quite complex, having evolved over time to include a lamination of high- performance plastics.
For product and packaging development manager Mark Harry this diversity of packaging provides a huge opportunity to remove packaging MFA doesn’t need and redesign the packaging it does, all with an eye to closing the loop.
Harry told Food & Drink Business: “We’re committed locally at MFA and globally across Mars to developing packaging that is one hundred
per cent reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025. This is aligned with the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation’s national target, announced in April 2018.
“We know packaging is critical. It protects ingredients from farms to factories and finished products from store shelves to kitchen cupboards. It preserves the freshness of our products, which are in nine out of ten Aussie kitchens, and provides nutritional information and portion guidance.
“But we believe there is no such thing as a sustainable product in unsustainable packaging. And it’s this belief driving our approach and innovation, to maintain all
the benefits while making sure our packaging can be part of a circular economy.”
Harry says it is not an easy solve. “Some of our products are actually cooked in the packaging and there is currently a very limited choice of recycled and reusable packaging for food or beverages not just in Australia, but globally.
“But we’re up for the challenge and nothing is off the table for reinvention, including our iconic squeezy sauce bottles, which have a plastic tamper proof seal, and our single-serve sauces.”
The concept of MFA’s single serve squeeze-on sauce launched in the early 1990s provided a convenient, mess free option to the single serve plastic sachet of its competitors.
Harry says it is a great format, holding in one hand, a simple squeeze to pull the two sides together and crack the seal for sauce, dressing or even honey to be delivered in a single serve with minimal mess.
“The format is largely unchanged since it was designed more than twenty years ago, but it has some end-of-life failings we are currently working to resolve.
“It’s a two-phase work in progress for us. The first has us looking at every component of the multilaminate plastic and the size, which as it stands is a
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