Mars switches to lighterweight jar
brand produced at its factory in the Netherlands, after a
successful trial of the container.
The lightweight jar was developed in partnership with the UK's Waste & Resources Action Programme (Wrap), a government-funded organisation set up to develop ways to reduce the amount of materials going to landfill. Lightweighting can reduce material and transport costs for processors, as well as helping them comply with EU-wide legislation requiring manufacturers reduce the environmental impact of their operations. Food packaging is one of the largest contributors to waste. Wrap has identified lightweighting, the reduction in packaging materials while maintaining strength, as one of the viable solutions. In a statement today Wrap said Mars' rollout of the lightweight jar for the Uncle Ben product marks its first successful packaging product in the food sector. Mars worked with Ardagh Glass to develop the container. Mars produces about 30 million jars a year of its Uncle Ben's sauce brand at the factory. Wrap's Glassrite Food, FAB & Soft Drinks project was launched in August last year and asked food retailers and brands to take part in a series of trials aimed at lightweighting glass containers. The trial with Mars resulted in a 6 per cent reduction in the weight of Mars' Uncle Ben's ambient sauce jars. "The breakthrough means Mars will save 450 tonnes per annum in glass - equivalent to 1,215 tonnes of CO2 emissions, which is the same as taking 192 cars off the road," Wrap stated in an announcement. The project's managers, Faraday Packaging Partnership in Leeds, worked with Mars to identify the potential environmental benefits to be gained from lightweighting Uncle Ben's. Then, working with glass manufacturer, Ardagh Glass in the Netherlands, Mars set out to reduce the weight of its ambient sauce jar, then weighing in at 258g. Frieda Sporen, Mars' packaging innovations manager, said the project managed to reduce the weight of the jar to 243g. "Crucially, the new jar can be manufactured smoothly on our existing production lines," she stated. "It has meant the creation of new moulds by our glass supplier and involved the slight increase in the diameter of the label recess area to create a smoother design, coupled with a slight reduction in the height of the jar." Last year Mars also cut down the weight of its 500g Dolmio sauce jar. Nicola Jenkin, a member of Wrap's retail team, called on other food and drink companies to develop similar innovations in the lightweighting of glass containers as a means of achieving environmental and supply chain benefits. "Wrap has estimated that the food sector could save a minimum of 65,000 tonnes of glass and 175,500 tonnes of CO2 emissions by 2009 - the equivalent of taking 28,000 cars off the road," she stated. The food, flavoured alcoholic beverage and soft drink sectors account for 34 per cent of the UK's total container glass use, according to Wrap's research. Wrap's GlassRite Food project is led by Faraday Packaging Partnership, with support from the trade association British Glass. Several leading glass manufacturers, including Allied Glass Containers, O-I, Ardagh Glass, Beatson Clark and Quinn Glass, as well as major retailers and brand owners, are also project partners. Wrap has a £8m research fund set up for the glass project.