Weetabix Food Company, makers of the nation’s favourite breakfast cereal, will hit the milestone of 99% of its packaging being widely recyclable by summer 2022, leading the pack of its industry peers. The company is on track to make 100% of its packaging recyclable ahead of the 2025 deadline set by WRAP for the UK Plastics Pact.
Key changes in the works for Weetabix this year include transitioning the Protein line of its Weetabix On the Go breakfast drinks to the widely recyclable PET bottles it introduced last year. The company has invested in extensive trials to ensure the clear PET bottle is able to keep the nutritional properties of the drink from deteriorating in sunlight. The new bottle will be 51% recycled content (rPET), reducing its carbon footprint by 7%.
The Northamptonshire-based cereal firm is also set to unroll an improved, widely recyclable paper wrap across all its biscuits, including Weetabix Original, Flavours and Protein. The innovation successfully balances the need to keep the cereal fresh throughout its shelf life with the need to be recyclable at kerbside. The improved paper wrap also has a much smaller carbon footprint, delivering a 20% reduction in emissions compared to the existing packaging.
John Petre, Head of Supply Chain and Technical at Weetabix Food Company, who heads up the firm’s sustainability work, says: “Ultimately, all our packaging decisions are based on whether they reduce our overall carbon footprint. Since food waste is a big contributor to carbon emissions and environmental damage, our concern is always to balance packaging innovation against that risk.
“Facing down this milestone of reaching 99% recyclable packaging is a huge testament to the hard work of the team. At this stage all the low-hanging fruit is long gone and the decisions that remain take a lot of hard work and dedication to get the innovations right. We had to do a lot of research and testing with our On The Go Drinks bottle in order to launch the fully recyclable bottle last year and we’re delighted to be rolling that out for our Protein range as well later this year.”
The news is announced as Weetabix also publishes its 2021 Sustainability Report, detailing progress on all sustainability commitments to date, such as continuing to source all wheat for Weetabix Original within a 50-mile radius of its mills in Northamptonshire. Alongside the news that the company will hit an industry-leading milestone for recyclable packaging, the report announces achievements across sustainable ingredients, efficient operations and health and wellbeing.
Highlights include receiving certification from UTZ, the world’s largest certification programme which is part of the Rainforest Alliance, that all the cocoa used across its product portfolio is sustainable. The certification follows a significant amount of work across the business, from changing recipes, updating up to 700 records, training staff, and auditing processes for products including Weetabix Chocolate, Weetabix Crispy Minis and Weetos, as well as chocolate flavours of Weetabix On the Go Drinks and Alpen Bars.
In a further move towards reducing the overall carbon footprint, Weetabix has also agreed a deal with UK-based green energy supplier Smartest Energy to supply factories with certificate-backed natural renewable energy, generated by wind, solar and water power. The imported renewable energy will supplement the existing generation that Weetabix has on site at Burton Latimer and will help to reduce the company’s Scope 2 emissions. In addition to this deal, the company has invested in a capex project to capture and reuse water that becomes steam during its manufacturing process, saving over 1 million litres of water annually.
As part of the ongoing focus on health and wellbeing, the overwhelming majority of the Weetabix Food Company portfolio, 99%, is already HFSS compliant, including Weetabix Chocolate, Chocolate Crispy Minis and Weetabix Melts.