Responsibility for Packaging and Increased Recycling – Strauss Group
Responsibility for Packaging and Increased Recycling – Strauss Group

Responsibility for Packaging and Increased Recycling

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As a leading food and beverage manufacturer, Strauss Group is aware of the gravity of the issue of packaging as part of its environmental footprint. We recognize that we have a responsibility to reduce packaging waste connected to the company’s activities, to increase our recycling capabilities, and to facilitate waste treatment. These issues are important to the company’s stakeholders, and dealing with them is necessary for promoting responsible global consumption and a reduction of the impact of this consumption on all forms of life on land and in water. 

To this end, we are setting up forums and other initiatives to identify and implement innovative packaging solutions. Strauss packaging experts often take part in local and global forums that focus on mutual learning the field of packing, and cross-industry and country improvements. 

We are aware of the environmental importance and the advantages of dealing with packaging, along with its many challenges and complexities. A key aspect of the ability to improve in the area of packaging is the recycling infrastructure in the various countries in which Strauss operates. Another challenge is the desire to preserve the proper ratio between the packaging and levels of consumption. Marketing a product in large packages can reduce the package’s waste relative to the weight of the product, on the other hand, this could result in increased food wastage. Consumer awareness of the importance of recycling is an additional challenge that could lead to a significant improvement in the success of packaging initiatives. At Strauss, we are determined to overcome these challenges and find the optimal solutions for reducing our environmental impact.

Strategic Packaging Project

In 2019, a work team was set up to formulate a strategy for reducing the environmental impact of Strauss packaging throughout the value chain. This team examines ways to reduce the environmental footprint of Strauss’ packaging by reducing the quantity and size of the packaging, switching to recyclable and/or pre-recycled environmentally friendly packaging materials, and improving packaging handling options after use. In 2020, the team finished formulating the strategy and action plan for the coming year, developed decision-making instruments and started to work with product development teams in companies throughout the Group.

Dedicated work teams were set up in the Group’s companies to examine the local challenges, tools and accumulated knowledge, and they started to formulate local work plans. For example, the Strauss Israel work team mapped 28 types of packaging, assessed their usage, and defined priorities for dealing with each type of packaging, including partially implementing the LCA principles and adapting them to the treatment infrastructures in Israel. Accordingly, a prioritized map of all the challenges in handling packaging was created. Based on this analysis, a workplan was formulated for immediate, medium-term and long-term tasks in the field of packaging at Strauss Israel. Furthermore, efforts were made to make the program’s implementation simpler and more accessible to the product development units at the different divisions. The work team developed a number of tools to improve the development units’ decision making process. These tools include a mechanism for classifying materials, testing criteria for purchasing new machines for a factory (that will affect future recycling capabilities), and more. The tools were implemented at the start of the projects and training was carried out for all internal stakeholders involved in packaging development processes.

In addition, the team set long-term improvement goals for Strauss Israel for reducing and treating packaging, by 2025:

  • 100% recyclable and/or degradable packaging
  • 85% of packaging made of recycled material
  • In addition, targets were set for increased collection, sorting and recycling of all packaging materials in Israel.

Total packaging at Strauss Israel was 29,260 tons in 2020. As follows is a breakdown of packaging according to current recycling capabilities:

Current recycling capabilities (in the infrastructures in Israel) Share of packaging reaching the consumers Share of total packaging – includes used for transportation to retail chains, and reaching consumers
Recyclable 60% 78%
Refuse Derived Fuel (RDF) 35% 20%
Cannot be recycled or reused 5% 2%

Another key initiative at Strauss Israel was the establishment of a steering committee to examine every environmental claim (Claims Committee). The committee dealt with issues including requests for approval of packaging where there are doubts about its environmental impact. 

In 2021, the team will continue to expand its purview, monitor the integration of its activities in the work plans at Strauss Israel divisions, support and guide its implementations, alongside following up on compliance with the targets set for each division. The team will expand the data and information infrastructure used to manage this area. In addition it will complete all the mapping of the various packaging materials, while distinguishing between recyclable materials and non-recyclable materials that can be replaced, and those for which no appropriate replacement has been found. 

Packaging Labeling and Promoting Recycling

In 2020, at Strauss Israel we started to add labeling information to products to increase the awareness of the option to recycle the packaging in order to best assist consumers in locating an appropriate recycling bin. We believe that this labeling can also encourage local authorities to increase their supply of recycling bins, especially those who have not yet made these bins available to their residents. This was done in partnership with the local Israeli Tamir Recycling Corporation. This project is expected to continue into 2021.

This initiative was supported by a dedicated website that provides information to the general public on Strauss’ package recycling options in Israel and on how to correctly separate waste in order to ensure effective recycling, and includes frequently asked questions.

The Salty Snacks Factory Received an Award for Separation and Recycling

In December 2020 the Salty Snacks factory in Sderot received the “2020 Recycling Award” as the leader in separating packaging waste for recycling, from the Tamir Recycling Corporation. This followed an extensive investment in implementing processes to streamline the recycling process at the factory, and to reduce, as much as possible, the amount of waste headed for a landfill. The factory allocated separate containers to the various types of waste;  started using compressors to reduce the volume of the packaging, (thereby also reducing the need for transportation); connected with suppliers who provide recycling services or enable the reuse of various elements of the factory’s products from transforming food-production residues to composting, and more.

The improvement could also be seen in the factory’s products, which have been going through a process of packaging reduction over the past two years. The award even recognized the factory’s work culture that encourages increased recycling, and the effort to keep the site as environmentally friendly in other ways. For more information, click here.

Additional Steps for Improving Packaging and Increasing Recycling at Strauss Israel

  • Yad Mordechai also uses 50% recycled material in its plastic containers. Its glass jars contain 60% recycled material, and the company is considering reusable alternatives to these containers.
  • In Israel, Strauss participates in several different forums on the circular economy as a representative of the food industry. These forums include discussions and knowledge sharing in an attempt to promote the circular economy in the rest of the market, including through partnerships between different industries.

Reducing Packaging Materials and Increasing Recycling at Strauss Coffee

  • In 2020 Strauss Coffee completed a pilot in Israel to switch the Elite coffee capsule from combined plastic and aluminum to a 100% aluminum capsule. This will be fully implemented in 2021, and will include a mechanism for collecting capsules from consumers to ensure they are being recycled.
  • At Strauss Coffee Romania, in 2019 efforts were already being made to reduce the coffee vacuum pack by 7%, without changing the contents of the coffee. The successful result was a reduction in the quantity of materials used and of the total waste that was generated after coffee consumption by customers.
  • Also in Romania, the company is looking into reducing its use of the plastic sheets it wraps its coffee containers in. The thickness of the sheet has so far been reduced by 20%. The goal is to continue to reduce the thickness and ultimately to develop a system that completely eliminates the need for this plastic sheet.
  • At various coffee factories around the world, efforts have been made to recycle the coffee shells that are left after the coffee is roasted, and other by-products of the production process.
  • At the Elite Coffee chain in Israel, the reduction of the environmental impact of disposable coffee cups sold by the chain is being encouraged. In partnership with the cup suppliers, the packaging material used for transporting the cups has been reduced; there has been a shift to cups that are easier to recycle; and the size of the straws has been decreased. The chain even launched an option to purchase a reusable cup, in order to encourage conscious consumerism among the company’s customers (frozen during the Corona period).

Reducing Packaging Materials and Increasing Recycling at Sabra and Obela

  • Over the past few years, Sabra has reduced the packaging materials used in the hummus and spreads that it manufactures and markets. In 2019-2020, the company succeeded in reducing over 240 tons of material in a move to lighter materials for its 300-500ml salads. Sabra even redesigned its personal salad containers (Snackers), reducing the mass of the previous packaging by 15%, which translates into a total reduction of about 100 tons of material. In addition to the savings on plastic, these reductions in the weight of the containers make it easier to transport the products and reduce the associated greenhouse gas emissions. The company is working to ensure that its products are fully recyclable.
  • In addition, Sabra is increasing the recycling in its manufacturing processes themselves, and in their offices. In 2020, the company completed a comprehensive survey of all the types of waste it generates, and found solutions for reducing some of its waste runoffs, and directing additional runoffs to recycling and composting. About 20% of the company’s building materials used in projects on the site in 2020 came from recycled sources.
  • Obela in Australia and New Zealand – In 2019 the company installed equipment that enabled a 30% reduction in the plastic packaging that had been previously used in manufacturing. The company works with its main suppliers to reduce packaging in the supply chain as well. For example, as a result of one of these partnerships, the humus beans supplied to Obela were sent in significantly larger bags, reducing the packaging per kilogram of raw material.
  • Obela Europe is currently making changes to its 175g hummus container. The new container will be made from 100% recyclable material, and will weigh about 6% less than the previous container, while reducing the plastic consumed by the customer, and reducing the greenhouse gases from transport. The new container is planned for launch in mid-2021.

Promoting Recycling at Strauss Water

In the past year, at Strauss Water we upgraded our processes for recycling the filters and LED lights used in the water bars in order to best promote our recycling goals in the company. As of March 2020, these components are collected from the homes of our customers by messengers, who provide replacement parts at the same time. Furthermore, from March 2021, customers who use this service will receive a bonus, in order to encourage the recycling of components and to fulfil the company’s service promise to the recycle filters and LED lights in the appliances. The soda cylinder found in some of the water bars that dispense carbonated water, have also been collected by messengers on a regular basis for the past few years. In addition, customers have the option of using the app that shows the pickup point closest to their homes where the waste is recycled by the (which specializes in the collection and recycling of electronic waste).

This activity supports 4 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals

  • Responsible Consumption and Production (12)
  • Life on land (15)
  • Partnerships for the goals (17)
  • Life below water (14)