Sabic has joined forces with Heinz, Tesco, and Berry in an innovative recycling trial in the UK designed to close the loop on soft plastic food packaging. Flexible plastic packaging collected from Tesco stores has been used to produce certified circular polypropylene (PP) from Sabic’s Trucircle portfolio for microwavable Heinz Beanz Snap Pots, made from 39% recycled soft plastic. The transformation of the industry towards a circular economy requires unprecedented innovation and intensive collaboration across the value chain. Sabic is at the forefront of this journey, and this latest achievement is yet another example of the company’s commitment to accelerate the change and ensure that plastic products are designed, produced, used, and recycled more sustainably.
Consumers are encouraged to return the soft plastic packaging to collection points set up at Tesco stores. A portion of this collected plastic packaging is converted into recycled oils, called Tacoil, through a thermal anaerobic conversion process. Sabic uses the oil to produce certified circular polypropylene of the same quality as virgin resin. With these polymer pellets, Berry Global, a leading supplier of innovative packaging solutions, then manufactures the new Beanz Snap Pots and sends them to Heinz for filling with Beanz and delivery to Tesco. Once emptied, the pots and sleeves can be returned to kerbside collection points.
The collaboration aligns with Sabic’s Trucircle program and the company’s commitment to driving the transformation of the plastic packaging economy towards circularity. “We are happy to reaffirm our role as a provider of unique circular solutions,” states Lada Kurelec, general manager of PP, PET, PS, PVC, PU & Elastomers Businesses for Petrochemicals at Sabic. “Next to the material know-how, we have brought value chain partners together and provided crucial elements such as support with certification processes or life-cycle assessment calculations, all while helping to prevent valuable used plastics from being lost to landfill or incineration.”
The Snap Pots recycling trial is part of Heinz’s global pledge aimed at making 100% of its packaging recyclable, reusable, or compostable by 2025. Jojo de Noronha, president Northern Europe at Heinz, says, “We’re proud to have teamed up with experts in the field of advanced recycling and sustainable packaging to bring this important innovation to our customers. Our hope is that this prompts an industry-wide look at what more can be done to address the lack of soft plastics being recycled in the UK, and we can, as a collective, get better when it comes to developing new packaging solutions that are both good for both our consumers and for our planet.”
Jean-Marc Galvez, president of Berry Global’s Consumer Packaging International Division, said, “This is a prime example of innovative advancement in circular packaging design made possible by collaboration across the entire value chain. This type of circular approach helps capture and reuse plastics that currently go unrecycled to keep materials in use and out of our oceans and landfills.”
To date, flexible packaging has been difficult to recycle, and until 2020 just 6% of soft plastic packaging was being recycled in the UK. Tesco started collecting soft plastic in all its large stores in 2021 to help plug this recycling gap in the UK. The Heinz and Tesco project with certified circular polymer from Sabic is considered a breakthrough with the potential of a real game-changer. James Bull, Tesco’s head of Packaging, said, “This innovative collaboration is one of the ways that soft plastic returned to stores by our customers will be recycled into new food-grade packaging. After doing everything we can to remove and reduce plastic, we want to develop circular recycling solutions so that used packaging can be recycled back into packaging again.”
The new Heinz Beanz microwavable pots are made with 39% of certified circular Sabic PP homopolymer suitable for injection molded or thermoformed food packaging products. The material meets the requirements of food-contact safety regulations and is a true drop-in solution to replace virgin PP in this thin-wall application without compromising processability or mechanical performance. The recycled content in the Snap Pots is validated by mass balance according to the International Sustainability and Carbon Certification (ISCC) PLUS program.
Sabic’s certified circular polymers form part of the company’s Trucircle portfolio and services for circular solutions. The offering also includes design for recyclability, mechanically recycled products, certified renewable polymers from bio-based feedstock, and closed-loop initiatives to recycle plastic back into high-quality applications and help prevent valuable used plastics from becoming waste.
Collect – Post-consumer soft plastic packaging which would otherwise be incinerated or taken to a landfill is collected at Tesco stores nationwide.
Convert – The collected packaging is then converted using a thermal anaerobic conversion process into an optimal oil feedstock.
Transform – Sabic takes the recycled oil and uses it as alternative feedstock in the production process to manufacture virgin, food-contact approved polymer pellets.
Create – On-site at its ISCC-certified manufacturing sites, sustainable packaging specialist Berry Global then applies its thermoforming capabilities to mold the food-contact approved polymer pellets made with 39% recycled plastics based on a mass-balance approach into new, post-consumer recyclable Snap Pots.
Recycle – Finally, the completed Snap Pots are sent to Heinz to be filled with Beanz and delivered back to Tesco stores. Once used, the pots can be recycled as part of kerbside collections.