It’s been decades since major brands started transitioning peanut butter into plastic jars. It used to be a big deal! Best Foods started packaging Skippy peanut butter in plastic in 1988 as did Jif, citing consumer preference, as illustrated in this awesome little gem of a commercial from the 80’s, now memorialized on YouTube.
Delivering Big On Source Reduction
It’s a huge load off to not have to worry about glass potentially falling and shattering when kids want to make their own PB&J, but only recently have we really begun to communicate the huge environmental benefits of packaging so many of our relied upon goods in plastics. Plastics have an important role to play in delivering sustainable outcomes. Through improving food security and nutrition to safe drinking water, reduced GHG emissions and using less material at the source, otherwise known as source reduction, peanuts and peanut butter are great examples of those outcomes. In 2011, Planters peanuts switched to plastic packaging and now uses 84% less material by weight, and its plastic jars are recyclable. In addition, because lightweight, shatter resistant plastic jars can be packed more tightly on trucks, Planters says the change from glass to plastic resulted in an estimated 25% reduction in trucks on the road delivering product. It’s innovation through plastic packaging design.
Popular U.K peanut butter brand SunPat switched to plastic packaging and reduced its weight by 90%. Their iconic curvy jar also incorporates 50% post-consumer recycled content, and, like Planters’ plastic jar, delivers a lower carbon footprint during transportation. When compared with glass jars, a truckload can contain up to one third more plastic packaging because it is lighter and can utilize more truck space, without overloading. Additionally, since plastic packaging is less likely to break, it reduces the need for a lot of secondary packaging. These factors also help prevent food waste, save on total transportation energy required and decrease greenhouse gas emissions.
In fact, the recent Trucost study Plastics and Sustainability: A Valuation of Environmental Benefits, Costs, and Opportunities for Continuous Improvement found that the environmental cost of using plastics in consumer goods and packaging is nearly four times less than it would be if plastics were replaced with alternative materials. Still, plastics must be properly managed throughout their life cycles to maximize their full sustainability benefits. Learn more about how our industry is engaged on increasing the recycling and recovery of plastic packaging.
Why glass jars aren’t necessarily better for the environment than plastic ones (Washington Post, June 23, 2014)