Instant eco-pack leaves bitter taste

The launch of the ‘Kenco Eco Refill’ pack is surely a sign of things to come.

As more brands respond to consumers’ environmental concerns, legislative drivers to reduce waste, and pressure from retailers to help them meet their Courtauld Commitment obligations, we are sure to see many more brands taking a radical look at their packaging.

According to the report in Marketing Week ‘the new Kenco pack is the second phase of Kraft Foods’ sustainability strategy for the coffee brand, with a £7.5m campaign promoting the launch of a product extension created to reduce its amount of packaging.

“The new Kenco Eco Refill pack format, which the company claims is a UK first, has 97% less packaging weight than the Kenco glass jars and has been developed to encourage consumers to switch to the more environmentally friendly pack”.

“The latest push follows the brand’s commitment to source the coffee for its entire range from Rainforest Certified farms by 2010. It launched a major above-the-line advertising campaign last year to promote its sustainability pledge.”

Whilst Kraft’s efforts to reduce its environmental impact are to be applauded, are the new packs better for the environment than the traditional glass jar? Whilst the pouches are significantly lighter, they’re made from oil, a resource that creates a massive amount of CO2 in its extraction and production.

What’s more, they cannot currently be recycled in the UK as no infrastructure exists for their collection and reprocessing , so they’ll end up being landfilled. Hardly a sustainable solution.

Okay, so the traditional glass jar was heavier and also generated CO2 in its manufacture and distribution. But glass can be recycled endlessly as part of a closed-loop, reducing carbon emissions in the long-term and generating significant resource efficiencies.

The point is that weight alone cannot be the only consideration when assessing the environmental credentials of one pack format over another. There are many factors to take into account and brand owners looking to respond to the pressures of retailers, consumers and legislators should not opt for simplistic solutions without a thorough investigation of the evidence.

Whatever the environmental arguments, it’s consumers who will judge if the new format is a winner. Interestingly Kraft has chosen to feature an outline of the glass jar on the front of the new pouch. Maybe they’re keeping their options open, there maybe life in the old jar yet.

Pelican Communications are specialists in the environmentfood and drinkoutdoor and leisure and packaging sectors and offer a range of services such as media relations, brand management, event management and people developmentContact us for marketing and communications expertise.