The medium-sized baby food manufacturer Hipp will continue to rely on glass as a packaging material in the future. The aim, however, is to further optimise existing packaging and to rely exclusively on sustainable packaging in the future. This goal is to be achieved by 2025.
In times in which sustainability is becoming increasingly important, a classic form of packaging is also coming back to the fore: glass. Whether reusable or disposable, in many cases the all-rounder proves to be an environmentally friendly option. It can be completely recycled, glass packaging consists on average of 60 percent waste glass – this figure is as high as 90 percent for green glass. According to the Federal Association of the Glass Industry, 97 percent of households in Germany use the more than 300,000 containers, resulting in a recycling rate that has been between 80 and 90 percent for years. In addition, glass recycling uses less raw materials and energy than new glass production and thus also emits less CO2 – so recycled glass is well positioned in terms of sustainability.
Material usage was optimized
Nevertheless, there is still room for further optimisation – as happened, for example, at the Hipp company. The manufacturer of baby food has been selling its little jars for 60 years, today around 300 million units worldwide. “Glass is good and will remain good in the future,” says Stefan Hipp. “In addition, glass is, above all, a particularly sustainable material. When it is returned to the cycle of recyclable materials in its pure form, it is 100 percent recyclable and can be reused an infinite number of times without any loss of quality.” The recyclability of Hipp glasses is currently 98 percent and the glasses consist of 70 percent waste glass – which is above the average for white glass. In addition, the glasses have become thinner and the openings larger over the course of time, which saves material and transport costs. As a result of the optical changes alone, Hipp has been saving around 7,500 tonnes of glass annually since 2016. The tinplate lids have also been slimmed down, so that around 77 metric tons less tinplate are used each year than, for example, in 2005. The shrink films for transport protection have also become thinner and now consist of 50 percent recycled material.
Sustainability as a corporate goal
However, this does not mean that Hipp has reached the end of packaging sustainability. By 2025, only recyclable materials are to be used – and in the future, the company will also focus more on glass. Because only 10 years ago, the company began offering baby food in plastic cups. They do not want to take back this decision – the demand proves the decision right. But at least: “Hipp has set itself the goal that all squeeze bags, meal trays, PET bottles and cups should be just as recyclable as Hipp baby food jars by 2025,” says Hipp’s Sustainability Report 2018. This is why, for example, alternatives are being developed from renewable raw materials such as wood or grass. “It is our aim to offer recyclable packaging,” explains Stefan Hipp. “And glass is and remains the first choice even after 60 years.”