Creating Value through Sustainable Packaging
Our commitment to 100% of plastic packaging that can be reused, recycled or repurposed is only achievable through continuous innovation both within McCormick and across the industry. Throughout 2022, our Global Packaging Innovation Team have continued their mission to incorporate sustainability considerations into our packaging design. This includes carbon footprint analysis, which demonstrates how new designs can contribute to our scope 3 emissions target.
One award-winning product re-design was our food color bottles which, through the utilization of 100% post-consumer recycled (PCR) plastic, appealed strongly to our consumers. The new McCormick Assorted and Neon Food Color bottles began appearing on shelves across North America in July, and shortly afterwards received an AmeriStar Award for best practice in the Food (Shelf Stable) category. Jessica Waligora, Principal Scientist for Packaging Development, helped to drive the new design.
“This project was the perfect mix,” explains Jessica. “We were tasked with solving a supply chain challenge, with a focus on getting to market quickly. But we wanted to make sure that we could still add meaningful value to the consumer in a sustainable way. In this case that was through the use of PCR.”
Sustainability is a core consideration throughout the packaging design process. The first step is to eliminate any problematic elements of the packaging that are not needed. Next, materials need to be chosen that meet our sustainability criteria while maintaining functionality and other requirements. “We want people to recycle our packaging,” says Jessica, “but at the end of the day we also need to find a use for that recycled material, while ensuring that it is consistently available.”
One of the challenges facing the industry as a whole is both the availability of sustainable materials and the technology required to create sustainable packaging that satisfies basic functionality. A progress report on tackling plastics issues was released by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation in 2022, and highlights that challenges with flexible packaging, for example sachets, and lack of infrastructure are key barriers to companies meeting their 2025 plastic packaging targets. McCormick, along with many of our peer companies, has had to reevaluate our timeline, with a new target date of 2030.
However, we are committed to continuously innovate our packaging design to not just meet our commitment, but also the expectations of our consumers. “The use of 100% PCR had a really positive reception during consumer testing,” says Jessica. “a high percentage of consumers said that it would positively influence their decision to buy the product.” Redesigning the packaging also resulted in a significant reduction in the volume of greenhouse gas emissions produced throughout the products lifecycle.
The work of Jessica and her team culminated in McCormick being honored by the Institute of Packaging Professionals (IoPP) at the 2022 AmeriStar Awards, with the selection based on criteria including packaging innovation and performance, design excellence, and environmental impact and sustainability. By taking a multi-pronged approach, the team created value for consumers, the company and the environment through their innovative re-design, and will continue to collaborate across the industry in building a circular economy for plastics.