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Kraft Heinz Elevates Recycling to the (Roof) Top of Priorities

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If you want to see a brick-and-mortar example of what “circular” or “sustainable” manufacturing looks like in practice, you might want to head over to a couple of Kraft Heinz manufacturing plants in the Midwest.

No, neither building looks like a giant bottle of Heinz ketchup or an enormous can of Planters Peanuts, unfortunately. But the facilities in Beaver Dam, Wis., and in Holland, Mich., were recently re-roofed in a pilot project with materials made from post-consumer flexible plastic packaging.

The materials consisted of 4-foot by 8-foot boards, each made of 94% post-consumer recycled plastic and fiber. Kraft Heinz uses flexible plastic packaging across its product portfolio and will monitor the performance of those two new roofs. If the results of the pilot are positive, it might standardize the use of this material.

The company worked with nonprofit Materials Recovery For the Future (MRFF) on this project.

“It was a privilege being part of MRFF, which not only helped identify ways to curbside-collect and recycle flexible packaging but also identified end markets that we could leverage within our facilities,” said Erik Groner, senior principal packaging engineer. “Our test project highlights the company’s commitment to sustainable packaging and the priority it places on its environmental, social and governance commitments. Kraft Heinz continues to search for ways to make our packaging recyclable and to incorporate recycled content within our supply chain.”

A view of one of the roofs.

MRFF is a research collaborative that studies the technical and economic feasibility of collecting, sorting, baling and recycling flexible plastic packaging.

“This Kraft Heinz project is a powerful example of environmental stewardship, reducing use of virgin materials by choosing roofing material made of recycled flexible plastic packaging,” noted Susan Graff, vice president of Resource Recycling Systems and MRFF research director. “Working with recyclers, they’ve provided a model for addressing expectations for full lifecycle management of plastic while using an efficient, low-cost package for consumer product protection.”

Other MRFF collaborators have included Target, Procter & Gamble and Pepsico.

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