By Lauren White, RCS Assistant Editor.
What do Ore-Ida, Capri Sun and Kraft Marshmallows have to do with roofing? Well, their flexible plastic packaging can be repurposed as a roofing material!
Kraft Heinz Company put their packaging to the test when they repurposed recycled flexible plastic packaging into a roofing material that is currently on their Beaver Dam manufacturing plant in Wisconsin, as well as a plant in Holland, Michigan. “The materials were comprised of 4’ X 8’ boards; 94% of each board was made of post-consumer recycled plastic and fiber,” reported Kelly Simon from the Daily Citizen.
The inspiration behind this innovative use for plastic packaging came from Kraft Heinz joining a pilot project with Materials Recovery For the Future (MRFF), a nonprofit research collaborative. Their goal is to “...Prove technical and economic feasibility to collect, sort, bale and recycle flexible plastic packaging,” according to Erik Groner, senior principal packaging engineer at Kraft Heinz.
What is flexible packaging? Bags, envelopes and pouches that are made of materials like film, foil or paper sheeting that take on a pliable shape when filled and sealed, are considered flexible packaging. This type of plastic is used across the Kraft Heinz product portfolio for brands like Ore-Ida, Capri Sun and Kraft Marshmallows.
Generally, this flexible plastic packaging isn’t accepted in curbside recycling programs in the United States. However, Pennsylvania has become the first state to have a curbside recycling program that accepts plastic flexible packaging, which was utilized in this pilot project.
“Working with recyclers, they’ve (Kraft Heinz) provided a model for addressing expectations for full life-cycle management of plastic while using an efficient, low-cost package for consumer product protection,” said MRFF Research Director Susan Graff.
Ease of installation, longevity and durability are the criteria being used to evaluate the roofing material. Once it’s determined if this recycled material performs as well as or better than the standard building materials, Kraft Heinz will “strongly consider standardizing use of this recycled material in the future,” according to the Daily Citizen.
Kraft is working hard to reduce and remove any unnecessary packaging as part of their sustainability goals. “If we don’t need it, we don’t want to use it in the first place,” Groner said. “The other things that we are focused on is that we aim to be 100% recyclable, compostable or reusable by 2025, so we’re designing our packaging to fit into one of those three categories.”
Due to the success of the Beaver Dam project, another Kraft facility has already had the roof board installed. The roof board meets FM Approvals criteria, meaning it adheres to the guidelines required for roofs installed in the Midwest. FM Approvals is an international leader in testing and certifying products and services for commercial and industrial facilities that can help prevent or reduce property damage.
“Installing the roof board with the post-consumer recycled content in our facility in Beaver Dam really speaks to Kraft Heinz’s global commitment to sustainability and I’m certainly excited to see where this journey takes us,” shared Groner.
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