MCLEAN, VA. — Mars, Incorporated announced Nov. 2 it has partnered with Huhtamaki, a global packaging supplier, and SABIC, a petrochemical provider, to incorporate recycled plastic in the packaging for its popular pet food brands.

The food-grade recycled plastic materials are manufactured through an advanced recycling process, ensuring the packages will not feel or look different from traditional plastic packaging.

"Plastic packaging littering our land and oceans is not acceptable, and at Mars, we're committed to helping address this problem,” said Barry Parkin, chief procurement and sustainability officer for Mars. “To do this, we need to reduce packaging we don't need, redesign the remaining packaging to become circular and invest to close the loop to help scale up recycling systems.

"Through our partnership with Huhtamaki and SABIC, we will test-and-learn, progressively scale up recycled plastic content in our packs, and ultimately help drive circular packaging systems,” Parkin added.

The pet food company will pilot its new recycled material packages in Europe into 2021, and hopes to expand to other regions and brands going forward.

SABIC, one of Mars’ partners in making these recycled materials packages possible, is currently one of the only providers able to use mixed, used plastic materials and transform them into food-grade recycled packaging, according to Mars.

"We are proud to show how this collaboration with Mars and Huhtamaki reflects our trust and willingness for innovation and a shared constructive and pioneering spirit,” said Mark Vester, global circular economy leader for SABIC. “At SABIC we are committed to developing new solutions to meet our customers' demands for increasingly sustainable solutions… Only through partnerships such as this can we prove the commercial viability and sustainability contribution of advanced recycling processes to help confront the challenges our society is facing today."

The material is certified by the Institute of Sustainability & Carbon Certification (ISCC) PLUS, which Mars reported is a widely used international sustainability certification to measure quality and authenticity of recycled materials.

"We are fully committed to playing our part in building a circular economy across the value chain and partnering with others to do so,” commented Charles Héaulmé, president and chief executive officer of Huhtamaki. “Our strategic partnership with Mars and SABIC is a great example of how collaboration can result in breakthroughs that deliver significant progress in our journey to designing 100% of our products to be recyclable, compostable or reusable by 2030. This new flexible packaging structure with recycled food-grade plastic is an important milestone on our journey towards achieving more than 80% of raw materials we use to be either renewable or recycled."

This initiative is part of Mars’ overall Sustainable Packaging Plan, which aims to use 100% reusable, recyclable or compostable packaging by 2025.

Read more about sustainability in the pet food and treat supply chain.