General Mills Piloting Dynamic Packaging

Lisa Johnston
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General Mills is investing in dynamic packaging labels to increase consumer education around recycling and further collaboration across the retail value chain. 

The company has teamed with the Recycling Partnership to leverage its Recycle Check platform, which enables shoppers to scan a QR code and either enter their ZIP code or enable location permission to receive a yes-or-no answer to the common question of whether something can be recycled in their area. 

The technology draws data from 9,000 U.S. community programs to cover 97% of the U.S. population, according to the Recycling Partnership. 

General Mills will pilot the platform with its frozen Pillsbury Pie Crusts because the metal pie tray used in the packaging is not universally accepted for local recycling, Patrick Keenan, packaging sustainability research and development at General Mills, tells CGT

The No. 28 publicly owned consumer goods company also currently leverages the How2Recyle standardized packaging label — found on more than two-thirds of its U.S. product portfolio — and the two platforms will complement each other during this pilot, Keenan says. How2Recycle intends to alert shoppers to “check locally”  while the Recycle Check QR code supplies the info required to act. 

As part of the pilot, General Mills will learn how many consumers scan the QR code to learn more about recycling in their locality. A short survey included with the recycling instructions will also ask specific questions around recycling behavior, in turn providing the CPG with insights into the number of consumers who can’t recycle the packaging and their opinion of the experience.  

This data will in turn help shape how to best implement the tool throughout General Mills’ brand portfolio, says Keenan. 

General Mills’ sustainability goals include having 100% of its packaging be recyclable or reusable by 2030, and the company expects the initiative to help drive industrywide advancements in packaging and further collaboration across the value chain.  As of May 2022, 92% of General Mills’ packaging for its North America retail and North America foodservice operating segments was recyclable or reusable, by weight, according to Keenan. 

“The clearer we can be with on-pack labeling for recyclability, the more efficient the whole system can be,” he notes. “We think labeling helps support circularity for packaging.”

Working with third parties like How2Recycle and RecycleCheck also helps the company verify that they’re providing the right data to consumers while simultaneously localizing the recycling experience. 

In addition to General Mills, Horizon Organic is also piloting the Recycle Check platform, and the Recycling Partnership said it’s working with the Consumer Brands Association to offer it through the association’s longtime SmartLabel program

This fall, CGT sister brands RIS News and Retail Leader are joining forces to debut Value Chain Tech, a unique new annual event focused on the technologies that power the key pillars of value chain success: Agility. Resiliency. Collaboration. Sustainability.

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