How Mondelēz International is working to improve its packaging in Europe

Published: 28/05/2024

We spoke to Can Buharalı (Senior Director, Global Public Affairs at Mondelēz International) as part of our monthly feature on sustainable packaging.

Mondelēz International is one of the largest snacks companies in Europe and we produce some of the most loved chocolate, baked snacks, meals, gum, and candy brands such as OREO, belVita and LU, 7DAYS biscuits, Milka, Toblerone and Cote d’Or chocolate, and Philadelphia cream cheese.

Reducing the environmental impact of packaging and tackling plastic waste are key priorities for us. We want to help enable a circular economy where packaging material does not become waste but is recycled or reused

Our makers and bakers live and breathe snacks – and we want to make them right for people and the planet. Our approach is based on reducing the packaging we use, evolving our packaging so that it is designed to be recycled, and using recycled content where we can.

We believe that by continuously improving our packaging and measuring our performance, we can work towards our long-term aim of advancing a more circular economy for packaging.

What is our strategic approach?

Our strategic approach is focussed on three key areas of work that help us design and use packaging that is light and right.

(1) Reducing packaging: Our focus is on reducing the overall footprint of our packaging and designing packaging for consumer reuse and refill where feasible.

Thanks to the slowly increasing availability of new materials, such as recycled content for flexible film in key markets, as well as supply chain adjustments and successful line trials across a complex network of manufacturing facilities we are continuing to make progress. In 2023, we were able to reduce our plastic packaging footprint by about 2.3% versus 2020.

We were also one of the founding business signatories to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation (EMF)’s Global Commitment, which unites organizations behind a common vision of a circular economy for plastics.

We were delighted to be singled out in their 2023 Progress Report as the brand that reported the highest tonnage elimination of plastic packaging: over 12,000 metric tonnes.

(2) Evolving our packaging: By evolved packaging we mean designing our packaging to be recyclable and removing challenging materials; and substituting virgin plastic packaging with alternatives including recycled plastic content.

We continue to make meaningful strides in the evolution of our packaging material and all paper and carton board, and some rigid plastics and flexible plastic films are already designed to be recycled.

Our Kvikk Lsunj brand, which is incredibly popular in Norway now uses up to 80% ISCC-certified recycled plastic (through the mass balance principle) in the outer packaging of its multipacks.  This is a major investment to begin using recycled post-consumer plastic and we are aiming to using more as the capacity of advanced recycling technology increases.

(3) Improved systems: Working towards a circular economy will demand infrastructural development, widespread investment, an enabling policy and regulatory environment, and cooperation between multiple stakeholders over the long term.

Collaboration is key, and we are committed to working closely with our peers and other stakeholders, particularly on innovation to replace challenging materials with more sustainable alternatives.

To this end we are active members of several global coalitions which are focused on collecting, sorting and recycling plastic waste; and we also advocate for extended producer responsibility (EPR) schemes to include plastic packaging, especially packaging made from flexible plastics.

As an example, we have committed to the Holygrail project, a multi-company initiative run by the European Brands Association (AIM) with the objective of proving the viability of digital watermarking technologies for accurate sorting and the business case at large scale.

We are also an active member of CEFLEX, working with 180 companies along the end-to-end supply chain to make flexible packaging in Europe circular.