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Kraft sheds 150 million pounds of packaging

Kraft Foods, Northfield, Ill., reports that it has eliminated 150 million pounds of packaging from its supply chain since 2005.

"Our global team of employees is doing a phenomenal job creating opportunities to reduce packaging material while assuring convenience and safety," says Jean Spence, executive vice president for research, development and quality. "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. We're sharing ideas, challenging and motivating one another, so this is truly a collaborative team effort."

The greatest opportunity to influence the environmental impact based on a package's size is early in the design phase. That's where the tool Spence references comes into play: Kraft’s Packaging Eco-Calculator, which helps packaging developers create efficient and optimized packaging

The company’s efforts have been global, using different tactics across diverse product lines. In the U.S., Oscar Mayer Deli Creations packaging was redesigned with 30% less paperboard, which is expected to keep 1.2 million pounds of packaging out of landfills per year. Consumers like the new package because it's smaller, convenient and takes up less shelf space, while the amount of product remains the same. In the United Kingdom, Kraft Foods recently began selling Kenco coffee in refillable bags to complement glass jars. The bags use 97% less packaging material by weight than a new jar, and require less energy to make.

In Australia, Kraft Salad Dressing bottles were redesigned to eliminate more than 100,000 pounds of plastic per year. The patented design differentiates the Kraft brand from competitors and allows more bottles to ship per truckload, effectively taking trucks off the road.

Kraft’s other initiatives include partnerships. One is with RecycleBank, a company that rewards consumers for recycling. In 2008, Kraft Foods began partnering with TerraCycle to "upcycle" used packaging materials into new, useful products.

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