At Annie’s, we care about our packaging’s impact on people and the planet — and we know a lot of our consumers care about it, too. If sustainability was just about whether the package could be recycled or not, Annie’s would be doing really well: over 90% of our packaging, by weight, is recyclable. But there’s a lot more that we want to consider. We think about packaging as a system, with inputs and outputs. Now, let’s take a look at what that really means….
Our vision of sustainable packaging highlights three main concepts – better inputs, like recycled content and renewable energy, outputs that can be recovered in recycling programs, and optimized materials, so that we use less packaging in the first place. We also think that sustainable packaging should be clear about whether and how it can be recycled, which is why we joined the How2Recycle, a voluntary effort to standardize packaging recyclability through a consistent labeling system.
For packaging inputs, we prioritize recycled content for our paper and glass. We use 35–50% post-consumer recycled content for our paper and glass packaging, which comes from recycling programs like the ones in neighborhoods across the United States and Canada. We also review our baseline inventory of materials annually to see how changes to our product portfolio or other aspects of our business affect our packaging needs. We collect details on our packaging materials for more than 90% of our products.
Our next big step is to integrate our vision for sustainable packaging into our process for reviewing all of our new and existing products. We’re already started on the path. Here’s an example of how we’ve started to examine our packaging decisions using our three part framework of inputs, outputs, and optimization.
Did you know?
At Annie’s, we try to understand sustainability issues from as many angles as possible, so when we took employees to our local recycling facility and saw how much paper still ended up going to landfills (about 1/3, according to the U.S. EPA), we started wondering about the impact of recycling on our own paper packaging. Paper in landfills contributes to climate change by producing methane, a potent greenhouse gas. It turns out that if all of our paper packaging used in 2014 got recycled instead of thrown away, Annie’s consumers would have prevented more than 24,000 metric tonnes of Carbon Dioxide Equivalent1 from entering the atmosphere, which is like taking 5,156 passenger cars off the road2. We think that’s pretty important, so we will continue to educate our consumers about the relationship between recycling, packaging, climate change, and other issues that matter to them.
1. US Environmental Protection Agency. Waste Reduction Model (WARM). Updated June 2014. Accessed 25 August 2014. http://www.epa.gov/epawaste/conserve/tools/warm/Warm_Form.html
2. US Environmental Protection Agency. Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator. Updated April 2014. Accessed 25 August 2014. http://www.epa.gov/cleanenergy/energy-resources/calculator.html#results.