Responsibility is vital for the environment

A healthy environment is an essential element of sustainable development. This goes beyond individual companies and so HARIBO wants to play its part.

blue electric car with HARIBO branding in front of charging station

Environmental and climate challenges are growing. A healthy environment is also vital for sustainable development. Consequently, HARIBO takes its responsibility for the environment very seriously.

For us, it primarily concerns packaging. How should we obtain our packaging in order to guarantee the optimal quality of our products? What food safety requirements do we need to meet? How can we achieve this with the most efficient use of resources possible? How can we further improve the recyclability of our packaging materials? Plus, are there any alternatives in terms of materials or technologies?

Packaging – just the right amount of protection and materials

Packaging for safety and security

The most important thing that food packaging has to do is to protect its contents. There are strict legal requirements for this (for instance, Regulation (EC) No. 1935/2004 in the EU). The contents of the packaging must be reliably protected against contamination and spoiling. The packaging also improves the transport options and enables longer storage – without impacting on quality. It therefore helps to reduce food wastage. And this is important because it generally takes many more resources to produce food products than it does to manufacture their packaging.

Packaging at HARIBO

At HARIBO we pay great attention to our packaging. We generally use monomaterial packaging, made solely from polypropylene (PP). This plastic is generally easy to recycle – provided that appropriate disposal structures and processes are available and used. Composite materials, which are harder to recycle, and multiple packaging are the absolute exception at HARIBO. Currently, HARIBO product packaging is more than 90% recyclable – which is certified by the renowned Institute cyclos-HTP.

In 2019, we conducted our own study of the 100 top-selling sweets and snacks in Germany (according to Nielsen’s calculations for 2018*) to look at the weight ratio between the contents and the packaging. To ensure a fair comparison, this was based on a product weight of 1,000 g. The results showed that all five HARIBO products in the 100 best-sellers ranked highly with their small amounts of packaging. The packaging also scored well for recyclability: the five HARIBO products listed were 100% recyclable.

* Private labels were not listed by name in the Nielsen ranking. The calculations therefore relate to the named 76 products in the top 100.

Packaging and recycling

The recovery of raw materials used to ensure closed material cycles is one of the central factors in minimising resource consumption – and thus also saving considerable energy. This circular principle is based on two things:

  • a functional waste management system (such as in Germany)
  • the recyclable materials, such as our product packaging, must also reach the disposal contractor; and be pre-sorted so that they can be kept separate from one another and entered into the correct recycling process.

The quality of recovered raw materials (known as recyclates) as starting materials is improving all the time; in the strictly regulated area of food packaging, however, it is now reaching its limit. This applies, for example, to contamination to be avoided during the recycling process – efficient separation of materials by the disposal company is essential to ensure the use of recyclates in food packaging.

A major challenge for recycling is the inadequate disposal structures still in place today in many countries around the world. Without these types of structures, recyclable packaging materials come to nothing.

Improvements of our packaging

We are constantly striving to improve our packaging. We follow three approaches in particular:

  • Reduced packaging
  • Further improvements in recyclability (known as design for recycling)
  • Alternative materials

The extent to which packaging made from paper or bioplastics could represent an alternative varies just as much as bio-based, biodegradable or compostable plastics as a whole. Even environmental organisations have come to the conclusion that the environmental impact of these packaging materials – based on the current state of science and technology – is generally no lower than that of petroleum-based packaging materials when viewed from an overall environmental perspective.

However, we will actively pursue technological developments in this area, continuously review potential applications and test them if the prospects of success look good.