PACKAGING AND POST-CONSUMPTION
Offering a portfolio of more sustainable products throughout their life cycle by means of the inclusion of eco-design principles and extended responsibility regarding their packaging.
Risks and opportunities GRI 103-1
The adequate management of the wrappers before, during and after the productive cycle is a relevant matter for Grupo Nutresa due to the large volumes of materials discarded once the products are consumed and disposed of.
In a highly competitive setting such as the one where the Organization operates, which is marked by changes in the preferences of the consumers towards products with a life cycle that represents a lesser impact on the environment, the development of packaging alternatives with a lesser environmental impact can become an opportunity to achieve a high level of differentiation and to add reputational value, which can in turn facilitate the access of its brands to more developed and aware markets in terms of environmental aspects.
Accordingly, in the strategic region where Grupo Nutresa operates, regulations are currently being established regarding the producers’ extended responsibility. This matter implies that post-consumption material recuperation quotas could eventually be demanded, which will require the construction of packaging collection, reverse logistics and recycling systems, and it could be even necessary to rethink and innovate alternatives that require a lower consumption of packaging materials.
However, several opportunities have arisen for the Company in relation to this matter due to the eco-design strategies it has been implementing, which cause a decrease in the consumption of packaging materials through the reduction of material thickness and dimensions, and through a higher efficiency in the industrial processes, generating thus a better environmental performance of the products and savings through cost reduction.
The changes in the consumption preferences have driven the food industry to offer its products in smaller servings and/or in more complex presentations, which increases the amount of packaging materials. Due to the foregoing and responding to the market needs, Grupo Nutresa faces the challenge of looking for packaging solutions that offer environmentally friendlier features while protecting the products in accordance with the required standards. In the immediate future, this could have an impact in technical terms, as there is a low feasibility of replacing the packaging materials that have low levels of biodegradability and recyclability with materials that provide a better environmental performance.
The challenge faced by the Organization is to continue with the implementation of its Sustainable Packaging policy while it makes progress in the achievement of its goal for 2020 of reducing its consumption of packaging materials per ton produced by 12%. Furthermore, the challenges for the coming years will be to strengthen the processes regarding eco-design, packaging material consumption reduction and, in general, the implementation of the aforementioned policy in its operations outside Colombia.
Goal for 2020: –12% packaging material /per Ton produced based on 2010 baseline.
Success stories and acknowledgments GRI 103-3
As a successful case, it is worth highlighting the replacement of 185 tons of traditional paperboard from foldable boxes used for various products from the Chocolates and Biscuits Businesses with EarthPact paperboard, which is fully manufactured with sugar cane bagasse, and it is recyclable, biodegradable and fluorochemical-free.
Another successful case is the replacement of the rigid PVC plastic containers with bags and micro-corrugated cardboard for the sweet boxes of the Chocolates Business in Mexico. PVC is a low-recyclability material that can produce a high environmental impact if it is not adequately disposed of. With this replacement, 48 tons of packaging materials are no longer being disposed of because a lighter material with a closed recycling cycle is used instead.
Grupo Nutresa’s commitment to sustainable development, specifically regarding the use of packaging materials, is evidenced in its Sustainable Packaging policy and in its strategic goal for 2020 of reducing by 12% the consumption of packaging materials per ton produced.
In order to monitor the compliance with the policy, the Organization keeps a close eye on the indicator of packaging-materials tons consumed per tons produced, which has had the following evolution over the past three years:
Reduction in the consumption of packaging materials with regard to the 2010 baseline (kg/t.p.)
The Design-to-Value (DTV) methodology has been maintained in the product development process, which means that all the specifications of the packaging materials are evaluated based on the value they add to the consumer, eliminating or modifying those that are not positively valued. As a result, the Organization prevented the production of 222 tons of packaging material in 2016 thanks to the implementation of initiatives such as the reduction in the dimensions and thickness of the displays, flexible materials and corrugated cardboard boxes, additionally to the replacement of several materials with other materials that have a higher level of recyclability.
Moreover, Grupo Nutresa is pushing forward initiatives focused on decreasing the amount of flexible packaging materials that are discarded in the diverse operations due to their obsolescence. By collectively working with one of the main suppliers, the Organization has managed to adjust the printing systems to manufacture package batches more adjusted to the actual needs and, therefore, avoid generating waste of materials. Additionally, Grupo Nutresa has developed commercial relations with suppliers specialized in the manufacturing of minimum amounts in order to cover the growing need of increasingly segmented products.
Reduction of packaging materials in tons Distribution according to categories and Businesses
Hover your mouse to see the figures
Despite the reduction in the amount of packaging materials as a result of implementing the DTV methodology, the indicator of consumption of kilograms of packaging material per ton produced presented a deterioration for the past year because it was highly affected by the changes in the production composition in the diverse operations. Therefore, an increase in the sales of products contained in glass and tin cans affect the relation between the amount of packaging materials per product. However, despite the fact that these materials are heavier, they can be fully reincorporated into the productive process, closing thus their life cycle.
The fulfillment of this indicator is increasingly challenging for Grupo Nutresa because the trend in the food industry is to offer increasingly smaller portions in order to meet the consumers’ portability and convenience needs.
In 2016, the Organization worked through Fundación Nutresa with a supplier that manufactures furniture from difficult-recyclability materials with the aim of managing the post-industrial flexible packaging material waste to close its cycle. Grupo Nutresa conducted a diagnostic to the 20 education institutions covered by the Healthy Lifestyles program, identifying opportunities to use furniture manufactured with said material. In 2017, the implementation of the project will be started and the first stage will be developed in Antioquia.
In the same context, the Coffee Business has been working on a program called “Retoma, Disfruta y Recicla” (Retake, Enjoy and Recycle), which is aimed at closing the cycle of the waste generated by its latest innovation: “Cápsulas Express Nutresa” (Nutresa Express Coffee Capsules). This program highlights the brand’s commitment to improve the environmental performance of its products.
Additionally, Grupo Nutresa continues to work on the search for environmentally and economically feasible alternatives to close the cycle of the flexible packaging material after product consumption under the leadership of the Packaging material Knowledge Node, which is a transverse initiative of the Organization. For such purpose, and as part of the open innovation strategy with third parties, Grupo Nutresa participated in the management session organized by Tecnnova, where this challenge was presented to multiple research centers.
Moreover, an open-participation challenge aimed at the employees was launched with the purpose of minimizing the consumption of packaging material of the products that are sent to the multiple commercial networks, identifying potential strategies such as: product availability changes to increase the number of units per corrugated box, the reuse of trays and profiles, and the design of generic boxes containing several product references.
The Organization also works on the reuse of its resources to generate a lower environmental impact. That is the case of the initiative implemented by Helados Bon in the Dominican Republic, which consists in reusing the large plastic containers in which the ice cream is brought into the shops.
727.673 large plastic containers were used in 2016, 590.645 of which were reused, achieving an approximate reuse rate of 80%. With the implementation of this initiative, the Organization avoided the disposal of 229 tons of plastic. The strategy implemented by the Cold Cuts Business, which consists in replacing the corrugated cardboard with reusable plastic baskets to pack its finished product, was replicated in the Chocolates and Biscuits Businesses, preventing the purchase of 37.600 corrugated cardboard boxes per year, which are equivalent to 19 tons of packaging materials.
In alignment with the packaging policy, Grupo continues to favor the use of packaging materials made with supplies from certified forests and recycled and recyclable materials. That is why 74% of the packaging material tons purchased corresponds to recyclable materials. Additionally, the main strategic ally in the corrugated cardboard category uses material made with 100% recycled cellulose fiber for the manufacturing of boxes. Moreover, the Organization is permanently working with suppliers that have the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) seal, which certifies that the origins of their raw materials are forest plantations. In the glass category, 54% of the supplies used by the supplier for the manufacturing of its products are recycled materials.