With consumers siding more for earth-friendly products, companies are taking notes to meet their demands while also reaching their own sustainability goals. Conagra Brands is one such industry leader, recently announcing new products featuring bowls made from plant-based fibers for Healthy Choice Power Bowls, new Hungry-Man Double Meat Bowls, and P.F. Chang's Ramen single-serve meals. To help bring this project to fruition, Conagra partnered with a sustainable materials science technology firm, Footprint.
“Plant-based fiber packaging is critical to helping Conagra Brands progress toward making 100 percent of our current plastic packaging renewable, recyclable, or compostable by 2025,” said Katya Hantel, Senior Director of Sustainable Development at Conagra Brands. “Innovative partners like Footprint have been invaluable in producing packaging that supports sustainable outcomes.”
By using plant-based fibers instead of plastic, the carbon footprint of manufacturing the bowls is reduced by 50–70 percent across select product lines. The expansion will help to decrease Conagra’s carbon footprint by 34,117 metric tons, equivalent to avoiding the greenhouse gas emissions of driving around the planet 3,399 times or 84 million miles, as stated in the press release. This progress aligns with Conagra’s January 2020 announcement that the company is striving to make 100 percent of its plastic packaging renewable, recyclable, or compostable by 2025.
The plant-based fiber bowl is designed by Footprint, a sustainable materials science technology firm that designs alternative solutions to single-use plastic. Conagra initially partnered with Footprint in 2017 to develop packaging for its Healthy Choice Power Bowls product line, which included a first-of-its-kind bowl made from plant-based fibers that could replace plastic alternatives. The versatile material is microwave safe, non-stick, and cooler to the touch than traditional plastic packaging. Since introducing the packaging in 2017, Conagra has avoided the use of more than 3.5 million pounds of plastic packaging.
“We’ve been able to create solutions for Conagra that won’t sacrifice cost, quality, or performance for the consumer,” said Footprint CEO Troy Swope. “Our engineered fiber-based packaging solutions integrate with existing product manufacturing lines for a smooth transition away from single-use plastic. Conagra’s use of plant-based fiber is proof that any company of any size can make incredible change for the betterment of the planet.”
These packaging solutions are driven by highly collaborative, customized inventions from the Footprint team of materials scientists, who worked closely with Conagra to meet the needs of the three distinct product lines. The team is led by Troy Swope and Yoke Chung, previous Intel engineers, who saw the opportunity to pioneer the use of plant-based materials based on ingredients that can stand up to the robust quality and safety that single-use plastic delivers to consumers while eliminating plastics from reaching the environment.
Conagra's current efforts to improve the sustainability of its packaging are part of the company’s broader commitment to responsible sourcing, one of the four pillars of Conagra’s corporate social responsibility and ESG efforts. For more information on how Conagra is supporting a sustainable world, see the company’s Citizenship Report.
Sustainability is a movement that won’t be slowing down anytime soon. Keep up-to-date with the latest partnerships within the industry with Deli Market News.