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"Campbell “promotes circularity” yet continues to supply single-use packaging."

The Impaakt Team

7 min Read Time | May 14th 2021

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Written by our community, with the aim to hold companies to account for their environmental and social impact, each of the articles is carefully vetted before they are published and this award selects the best work from the week.

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“Campbell “promotes circularity” yet continues to supply single-use packaging.”

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Written by: Shanthi de Costa

Company: Campbell Soup

SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production


Feedback from the reviewing team:

"Whilst many businesses are doing work to address the sourcing and recycling of their product packaging, this analysis carefully articulates where there are missing links, specifically in addressing the core problem of the 'single-use' element of product packaging."


Read the full impact analysis below and ensure you log-in or sign-up to make your ratings about the impact the topic in this analysis has on the environment and society.

Food packaging creates 680Mt of global GHGe1 yet prevents food waste2. Pressured by environmentally aware consumers and regulators, FMCGs are changing their packaging strategy.

Campbell Soup (CS) is an FMCG with 2020 growth of 7% (53% in meals and beverages, 47% in snacks)3;p2, with an overall market share of 2.18%4. Its aim for “sustainable packaging to promote circularity” centres on the supply, disposal, and treatment recycling process3;p35-36. However, it used 441,019t of packaging, of which 39,598t of non-recyclable packaging3;p36.

Some of the packagings used post-consumer recycled content (PCR), which offsets raw material use and stimulates demand for recycled materials. Recycling is less destructive and energy-intensive than extraction, albeit the process still contributes to fossil fuel usage and GHGe5. Despite glass and metals being infinitely recyclable5, CS used PCR content in 35% of its glass, steel, and 38% of its corrugate packaging; 70% in aluminum packaging; and still uses no PCR plastic3;p36.


From the packaging that is recyclable, recycling success then falls on the consumer. CS expanded investment in clear labelling to educate consumers3;p36, yet produces snacks – the top 10 causes of littering6.

Of the packaging that the consumer actually recycles, responsibility then falls on waste management systems. However, material development occurs faster and in a disconnected manner to the corresponding after-use system7;p7 and existing recycling systems are not equipped to manage multi-material packaging2. CS partners with recyclers on advancing recyclability of its more challenging packaging types3;p36.

CS's packaging strategy fails to address its single-use nature through refill/return schemes. 20% of plastic packaging could be replaced by reusable systems8 generating USD700 million annual material cost saving for the industry9.

CS continues to supply single-use packaging, albeit of better quality, adding to global GHGe as a result.

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