Going global with circular packaging

It took drive, dedication and a knack for innovative solutions to customer challenges for Berry Global to grow from a small injection moulding North American firm to an international corporation with more than 300 global locations and 47,000 employees serving over 18,000 customers. The company is now applying the same mindset to making its operations more sustainable, in partnership with ISCC.

Berry anticipates certifying more than 100 sites round the world to produce circular packaging made from plastic waste, which would otherwise go to incineration or landfill. This is a substantial increase from its current total of 39 certified sites. When Berry achieves this goal, it will have significantly more ISCC PLUS-certified sites than any company worldwide. Berry’s efforts will help more consumer goods producers use circular packaging. And ISCC’s new licensing scheme will help these brand owners communicate about certified circular materials.

Plastic packaging is key to protecting food and medicines from damage during their journey to the consumer. Everyone in the supply chain, from polymer manufacturers and converters like Berry to suppliers of consumer goods, knows packaging must become recyclable and circular as we transition to a net-zero economy. Significantly increasing the use of recycled material made from waste is key to this economic transformation.

Berry is using the mass balance approach, in which the polymers made by advanced recycling are attributed to certain circular products. The traceability and verification are guaranteed by ISCC PLUS certification of each site involved, requiring site-specific audits, certification and mass balance calculations. This ensures the auditor can reliably verify the attribution of circular polymers at each site. For global coverage, this means accessing polymers made from plastic waste in many countries because ISCC PLUS requires mass balancing and attribution between producing and supplying sites to occur in the same or neighbouring countries. Berry has developed partnerships with some of the world’s leading suppliers of advanced recycled plastics to ensure it will be able to provide material for its certified sites.

The company first started working with ISCC in 2020 with two sites in the UK obtaining certification that year. Thirty five sites in Europe, one in Africa, one in India and three in the US are now ISCC PLUS certified, with more being added to the total each month. Company sites specialising in products for the healthcare industry are amongst those already certified. Advanced recycling technology is ideally suited to high-tech sectors such as medical packaging, as the recycled polymer has similar qualities and specifications as the new plastic it is replacing.

As more countries incentivise recycling and tax new plastic packaging, brand owners in the food sector are gearing up to use circular materials. Brands want advanced recycled content to be available in multiple locations as they roll out the new packaging in different markets. And many are choosing Berry and ISCC to implement their strategies.

In 2020, Berry announced its collaboration with long-time customer, Mondelēz International, a leading producer of snacks worldwide. The company will be supplying packaging containing recycled plastic for its iconic Philadelphia cream cheese. Jean-Marc Galvez, president of Berry Global’s Consumer Packaging International division, said “We are pleased to partner with Mondelēz International in providing ISCC certified packaging made with recycled plastic from advanced recycling technology. By recovering and diverting waste that would have otherwise been sent to landfill or incineration, we are working towards our common goal of promoting a circular economy.”

Just recently, Wendy’s announced they will offer single-substrate, clear plastic drink cups that more consumers will be able to recycle – a transition from a selection of plastic-lined paper cups with limited recyclability.  The new recyclable cups will be made from 20% advanced recycled plastic, using a mass balance approach. They will launch in U.S. and Canada restaurants in early 2022. This first step will divert an estimated 10 million pounds (4,500 tonnes) of waste from landfills over the first two years. “Giving our natural resources multiple lives requires commitment and collaboration across the value chain. Partnering with leading brands and ISCC is key to accelerating a circular economy,” said Tom Salmon, Berry Global’s chairman and CEO.

ISCC is making life easier for brand owners to communicate about ISCC certified materials. A newly launched licensing scheme allows companies at the end of the supply chain to promote their use of ISCC-certified materials, without the need for full certification. This licensing programme not only adds value for brand owners and purpose-driven consumers seeking to minimize their environmental footprint, it also increases transparency and traceability of recycled content.

Recycling plastic waste back into new high-quality packaging on an international scale is a challenge Berry is committed to tackling, particularly with its recent announcement to increase circular resins in its fast moving consumer packaged goods to 30% by 2030. Now companies are forming partnerships along the supply chain to drive the process forward. Berry Global aims to make it happen all over the world while maintaining its leadership in delivering sustainable, innovative solutions for its customers’ growing sustainability goals by leveraging the benefits of ISCC PLUS certifications.

For more information on ISCC PLUS certification please contact ISCC at info(at)iscc-system.org.

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