Kraft Heinz to test paper-based ketchup bottle with Pulpex partnership

Dive Brief:

  • Kraft Heinz is partnering with Pulpex to develop a paper-based, renewable and recyclable bottle made from 100% sustainably sourced wood pulp. The CPG giant said Heinz is the first sauce brand to test the potential of Pulpex’s sustainable paper bottle packaging for its condiments.
  • The companies said they are developing a prototype to test how the innovation could be used for Heinz Tomato Ketchup bottles and other packaging formats. They plan to eventually test it with consumers and then roll it out to the marketplace.
  • Nearly every food and beverage CPG has turned to packaging as one way to reduce their environmental footprint — with some firms debuting changes more broadly while others work on testing out prototypes.

Dive Insight:

Pulpex, a packaging technology company co-founded by Diageo, has quickly grown in prominence with several CPGs working with the upstart. PepsiCo, which debuted a prototype of the world’s first fully recyclable paper bottle last year, and Unilever have committed to using Pulpex’s technology in their packaging as founding partners of a consortium of companies.

For Kraft Heinz, the new bottle type will help in its broader sustainable packaging ambitions. The manufacturer of Velveeta cheese and Oscar Mayer cold cuts has pledged to make all of its packaging globally recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2025. It also is aiming to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

A big reason why companies are investing money to improve their packaging is not only to be altruistic but also because consumers are responding through their purchases. 

More than two-thirds of consumers consider it important that the products they buy are in recyclable packaging, according to Trivium Packaging’s 2021 Global Buying Green Report. The report also found 54% take sustainable packaging into consideration when selecting a product.

It’s a big reason why General Mills’ Nature Valley Crunchy granola bars, for example, moved to fully recyclable plastic wrappers starting last year and PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay division introduced a compostable bag for its Off The Eaten Path brand.

Coca-Cola has introduced bottles made from 100% recycled plastic material, Mars Wrigley has partnered with Danimer Scientific to create biodegradable wrappers for Skittles and Danone’s Evian bottled water brand has unveiled a new recycled plastic (rPET) prototype bottle using technology from Loop Industries. The Evian bottles will first appear at a commercial scale in South Korea in 2022 before debuting elsewhere in the future.

In many cases, companies are testing out new sustainable technologies before determining whether to roll them out more broadly — a key step to ironing out any glitches and making production cost-effective. Kraft Heinz said it will test the prototype to assess performance before trying it with consumers and then eventually bringing the bottle to market.

The fact that easily recognizable brands such as Heinz are embracing paper-based packaging adds significant momentum behind the shift.

“The scope for paper-based packaging is huge, and when global household names like Heinz embrace this type of innovative technology, it’s good news for everyone — consumers and the planet,” said Pulpex CEO Scott Winston.