Kraft Foods has greatly reduced its use of packaging materials in a variety of products with its Packaging Eco-Calculator, a tool that helps designers create efficient packaging. Source: Kraft Foods.

Kraft Foods set out in 2005 to lose weight in packaging materials throughout its supply chain. Starting the year 2010 off right, the company finds it has eliminated 150 million pounds of excess packaging, exceeding its goal two years ahead of schedule.

According to Jean Spence, executive vice president, research, development & quality (RDQ), employees were creative in finding opportunities to reduce packaging material while assuring convenience and safety. “We’ve invented a tool to help us design more efficiently. And we’re finding smarter source materials, reducing our footprint and thinking differently about packaging end of life,” she adds.

The greatest opportunity to influence the environmental impact based on a package’s size is early in the design phase. Kraft developed its Packaging Eco-Calculator-a tool that helps designers create efficient and optimized packaging.

Oscar Mayer Deli Creations packaging was redesigned with 30% less paperboard, uses less shelf space and is expected to keep 1.2 million pounds of packaging out of landfills per year. In addition, according to Perfecto Perales, senior director for RDQ packaging research, Kraft reduced headspace in Oreo Cakesters packaging, resulting in a 12% smaller carton. 

In Europe, the removal of packaging layers from Milka chocolate bars decreased package weight by 60% and eliminates 5.7 million pounds of packaging material per year. In Australia, Kraft salad dressing bottles were redesigned to eliminate more than 100,000 pounds of plastic per year, and more bottles can be shipped per truckload.

In addition to design changes, material changes can have an impact. In the UK, Kraft sells Kenco coffee in refill bags to complement glass jars. The bags use 97% less packaging material by weight than a new jar and less energy in the packaging conversion process. In North America, Maxwell House, Yuban and Nabob coffee brands are now packaged in composite paperboard that weighs 30% less than the former cans. The paperboard uses 50% recycled content and is expected to eliminate 8.5 million pounds of packaging.