Mars Food brings its first mono-material microwavable rice pouch to market in the UK
Mars Food has announced the launch of the initial roll-out of the highly anticipated mono polypropylene (PP) packaging for the company’s microwavable rice pouch range which is designed for recyclability.
Launching as a pilot, the roll-out will begin on Uncle Ben’s Ready to Heat Wholegrain rice, soon to be re-branded as Ben’s Original, available in Tesco stores from the middle of April. Learnings about how the material run through Mars’ supply chain will inform a wider roll-out in the year ahead.
Developed with global packaging partner, Amcor, the use of high performing mono-PP material will allow Mars Food to retain the shape, shelf life, functionality and high safety standards needed for its brands’ packaging whilst allowing the pouches to be recycled where the correct collection and recycling infrastructure exists that accepts flexible plastic.
This achievement is a milestone step in Mars’ Sustainable Packaging Plan, which outlines the business’ commitment to achieving 100% recyclable, compostable or reusable packaging by 2025.
At present, mono PP flexible plastic is not supported by at-home recycling collection. However, several major retailers have recently announced in-store trials which offer flexible plastic collection solutions thus giving consumers a recycling route.
Effective collection and sorting systems alongside the availability of recycling infrastructure are critical elements in building a circular economy for all packaging types. It is expected that by the end of 2021, nationwide in-store recycling will be available for mono PP flexible packaging, with in-home recycling available from 2023.
Matt Cutts, Innovation Director at Mars Food said: “This is a huge step forward for Mars and our journey to fully recyclable packaging. The work is not finished, and we hope this innovation will mean greater discussion surrounding the collection and recycling infrastructure that is needed alongside packaging development.”
Helen Bird at WRAP said: “The UK Plastics Pact strategy is for all types of plastic bags and wrappers to be collected for onward recycling. The ability to recycle the material is largely dependent on its design. In many cases this means that the packaging needs to be simplified, requiring research and innovation. WRAP is delighted to see this break-through in microwavable food pouch design which means that once it is collected, it can go on to be recycled into new items. And these collections are coming. We are encouraged by the recent announcement by some supermarkets to collect all types of plastic bags and wrappers and feel sure that similar announcements are in the pipeline by other retailers. These supermarket collection points are a critical stepping stone towards these materials being collected directly from households in years to come.”