The introduction of our new Hellmann’s 100% recycled and recyclable plastic jars and bottles in North America marks another major milestone on the brand’s journey to exit virgin plastic, following on from their initial launch in Mexico last September.

Hellmann’s becomes the first dressings brand in the US to make the switch to 100% recycled bottles and jars, and we’ll also be leading industry change in Canada as the first to transition to PCR (post-consumer recycled) packaging.

This will cut our use of virgin plastic, per year, by around 13,000 tons in the US and 1,000 tons in Canada. This is the equivalent of 60 Statues of Liberty.

By the end of this year, our aim is that all Hellmann’s mayonnaise plastic jars and squeeze bottles – globally – will be 100% recycled and 100% recyclable.

The move supports our company-wide commitment to ensure that 100% of our plastic packaging will be fully reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025.

It will also help us achieve the new 2025 goals we set ourselves in October – to halve our use of virgin plastic in our packaging, and collect and process more plastic packaging than we sell.

Helping consumers do their bit

Around the world, sustainability is proven not to be a niche issue, nor is it a subject restricted to a single group like 'millennials' or 'green' consumers.

A study by the Kantar Worldpanel found that 78% of people globally admit to feeling better about themselves after buying products that they know to be sustainable or better for the environment.

And the responsibility is clearly with the companies and brands that make these products to own the issue. Findings in a separate Kantar study show that nearly half (48%) of all consumers worldwide expect manufacturers to take the lead on plastic packaging waste.

According to Benjamin Crook, Senior Marketing Director for Hellmann’s in North America: "Switching to recycled plastic has a positive impact on the environment by reducing the amount of bottles sent to landfills and lowering greenhouse gas emissions. At Hellmann's, we strive for sustainability in all that we do, including helping customers make a responsible choice while still enjoying the products they love.”

Tackling a tricky problem

In an ideal world, we would immediately change all our plastic packaging so it's fully recyclable and made from 100% recycled content. But for a host of reasons, that's trickier than it sounds.

Firstly, not all plastics can be recycled today, and it depends on the technologies available. For example, transparent PET (the material we use to make Hellmann's bottles and jars) is recyclable but flexible laminates (which we use in our sachets) are not. Having said that, sachet recycling is an area we’re working on intensely and making good progress.

What's more, the food industry requires the highest level of purity for reused plastic. This means that recycled PET collection and production is more labour intensive and carried out by fewer suppliers, making the material less widely available and more expensive.

Hellmann's has been working for some time to overcome these challenges. The launch in Mexico and this latest roll-out in North America is a big step forward in making all packs fully recyclable and made from 100% recycled materials.

As Christina Bauer-Plank, Global Brand VP for Hellmann's, says: "Eliminating virgin plastic from our packs is not easy, but it is the right thing to do. At Hellmann's, we're all about 'Real Taste and Less Waste', so the introduction of 100% recycled and recyclable jars and bottles is a very important step that contributes to building consumer preference while helping the planet.”

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