When it comes to plastic packaging, Hipp, the manufacturer of baby food and baby care products, relies on mono-materials with a high recyclability and is planning further optimizations in its packaging strategy until 2025.
“Consumers’ awareness of sustainable packaging has obviously changed,” says Stefan Hipp, Managing Partner of the eponymous company, zeroing in on a recent survey by Simon-Kucher & Partner. According to the survey, 73 percent of consumers attach importance to sustainable packaging – across all sectors. And what exactly characterizes sustainable packaging? According to the survey, it should be biodegradable (55 percent), made of recycled materials (53 percent), or at least made of recyclable materials (46 percent).
“Today, it’s no longer just about organic cultivation of food raw materials, but a holistic approach to a sustainable value chain,” says Stefan Hipp. That’s why the company made its core product, baby jars, completely climate-positive a year ago, he says. “The CO2 emissions are determined in detail for every upstream and downstream process, from the production of raw materials to processing, packaging, and logistics to the shelf,” Stefan Hipp reports. The analysis process was followed by extensive calculations with external testing companies, certifications, and technical innovations in the process flows in order to continue to save emissions as best as possible. Hipp “overcompensates” for the unavoidable emissions. According to the company, an average of 319g of CO2 is emitted per jar, but Hipp already offsets 350g of CO2 through climate protection projects.
The Hipp jar has been certified by the cyclos-HTP institute as having a recyclability rate of well over 90 percent. “This enormously high value is our benchmark for all packaging systems by Hipp,” says Stefan Hipp, adding, “For bowls, cups, and squeeze bags, the more than 90 percent is our target for 2025.” 100 percent recyclability is not possible because inks, varnishes, and adhesives cannot currently be included in the recycling process. Stefan Hipp knows that this high percentage is an ambitious goal for all packaging solutions, “because we have to ensure hygiene regulations, protection against germs, air, and moisture, as well as the quality and integrity of our products.”
The packaging industry is aware of these complex challenges and is looking for alternatives. Specially coated so-called barrier papers could replace some plastic packaging in the future. But much of this is still in the testing phase; manufacturers must also prepare for the investment in new packaging lines.
Stefan Hipp is convinced that “this effort will pay off in the long term. That’s why we are pushing ahead with new developments. But until these take effect, the aim is to use only plastics that cannot currently be replaced and that we can return to the circular economy,” says Stefan Hipp, summing up Hipp’s packaging strategy for achieving the company’s 2025 target. The decisive aspects for this are: less packaging material, high-grade recyclability, and increased use of recycled packaging materials.
The company aims to further save packaging material. In 2018, said the company says it still consumed 51,006 tons of packaging material, compared with 46,811 tons in 2021. According to Hipp’s strategy, the aforementioned “high level of recyclability” should also be increased each year in the area of plastic packaging. “We achieve this by using mono-materials and not composite materials,” says Stefan Hipp. “Because these can be returned to the circular economy.”