This Heinz example perfectly matches my definition of a sustainable package.


By: Robert M. Lilienfeld, guest author     

I recently gave a speech on sustainable packaging at the DuPont Packaging Awards, and was fascinated to learn about the various environmental benefits offered by the winners. The one that really drew my attention was the new Heinz® Dip & Squeeze® Ketchup package.

According to Dr. Michael Okoroafor, VP of Packaging R&D/Innovation, the package was developed in response to consumer demand for a ketchup container that can be used for either dipping or squeezing. It offers better functionality and convenience than typical sachets by providing two different usage options – tearing off the top or “cap” for squeezing, or peeling off the lid for dipping.

He added that the package provides three times more ketchup than standard 9-gram sachets and uses less packaging. But doesn’t the fact that the container delivers three times more ketchup mean that consumers will be wasting more of their favorite condiment, even if it saves a bit on packaging?

“This is the true genius of this package,” Michael stated. “First, it contains the amount of ketchup that most consumers are looking for. The design and shape make it easier to use up ALL the ketchup, as consumers can either squeeze it all out or scoop it all up. So, there’s actually less food waste. Plus, consumers typically grab a whole bunch of the sachets and end up throwing away quite a few that aren’t used at all, wasting both the ketchup and the package. Our new approach eliminates this waste as well.”

I bring up this example because it perfectly matches my definition of a sustainable package, which is a container that delivers 100% of the product value with minimal economic, environmental, and social impact. There may be incremental improvement opportunities relating to material selection and usage, but this is a helluva great start.

One final note: This packaging innovation didn’t come from some small, tree-hugging outfit with a niche product. It came from Heinz – a big old, stodgy, slow-moving organization that is as risk averse as they come. What does that tell you about the importance of sustainable thinking to both big corporations and Middle America?

Robert M. Lilienfeld is a Fox TV environmental commentator and Editor of The ULS (Use Less Stuff) Report, a newsletter dedicated to conserving resources and reducing waste. He also founded the website. Along with Dr. William J. Rathje, he co-authored the book Use Less Stuff: Environmental Solutions for Who We Really Are and the 1995 landmark New York Times Op-Ed piece entitled Six Enviro-Myths.