Weetabix supply chain and technical director John Petre discussed the design philosophy behind the manufacturer’s sustainability programme. He also addressed the four key pillars supporting its ‘Change for Better’ framework – sustainable ingredients, reduce packaging waste, efficient operations and health and wellbeing.
For packaging, the approach was to find where less of it could be used and how much of it could be made from recycled materials. When asked if Weetabix had plans to create a closed loop for their packaging, Petre said the manufacturer was instead working to play a better role in already established recycling infrastructure.
Sustainable packaging loop
“Rather than create our own loop, we’ve tried to play our part in the full sustainable packaging loop where recyclable packaging can be collected on the curbside – but better yet, don’t use it in the first place,” he said.
“For example, our plastic bottles for our drinks are now 100% recyclable and contain 30% recycled material. Our overall packaging is 92% recyclable and we’re looking at how we can keep increasing and improving on that.”
Petre went on to talk about the effect of COVID-19 on the business’s sustainability plans, as well as the benefit the pandemic has had on sales for breakfast cereal manufacturer.
“We’ve all had to adapt in terms of communication and our approach. People who can work from home are so our factory employees feel safe and secure and able to come in and do their jobs,” he continued. “We’ve made use of technology, using [Microsoft] Teams for meetings.”
While the lack of face-to-face contact has put strain on some supply chains, Weetabix already had a robust system of communication up and down the supply chain, according to Petre. As such, the pandemic had not created a barrier for relationships with suppliers.
He went on to discuss the future of sustainability for the business. While confident that the manufacture would make significant progress in the next five years, Petre argued there will still be much more to do in order to make operations more effective.
- In another recent podcast, Pilgrim’s Pride head of sustainability Matt Dight told Food Manufacture about the role COVID-19, Brexit and packaging would play in the future of the meat processor’s sustainability plans.