Under a new partnership of Ahold Delhaize USA, Sealed Air and ExxonMobil, flexible plastics will be designed to be collected, recycled and repurposed into new food packaging.
Ahold Delhaize USA, global energy company ExxonMobil and packaging manufacturer Sealed Air are teaming on an advanced recycling initiative billed as the first of its kind in the United States. The project recycles flexible plastics from the food supply chain and remakes them into certified-circular food-grade packaging. The initiative is expected to launch this summer and scale over time.
“We’re proud to work with [Sealed Air] and ExxonMobil on this collaboration, which has the potential to radically change the way retailers and manufacturers leverage food-grade recycled plastics as a key means of keeping plastics out of landfills,” noted Brittni Furrow, Ahold Delhaize USA’s VP, health and sustainability. “We’re eager to learn from this work and apply the learnings to advance our own plastics ambitions, but also advance these efforts broadly, helping to ensure a better tomorrow for our planet.”
A major food industry challenge is enabling a circular economy for plastic packaging materials with strict hygiene and performance requirements for food protection and distribution. Recovering these packaging materials requires innovative recycling methods beyond traditional mechanical recycling.
The collaboration aims to help boost the use of recycled content by validating the technical and economic viability of a certified circular system based on advanced recycling technology and mass balance attribution. Flexible plastics will be designed to be collected, recycled and repurposed into new food packaging. According to the companies involved, the initiative will help keep used flexible plastics out of landfills, increase the number of times that essential plastics can be recycled, and ensure the safety and quality of packaged foods.
“[Sealed Air] is leading the packaging industry by showing how high-performance packaging materials can be designed to be remade,” said Ted Doheny, president and CEO of Charlotte, N.C.-based Sealed Air. “Advanced recycling is key to these valuable materials being collected and remanufactured. Our collaboration with ExxonMobil is opening new recycling possibilities, and by partnering with leading retail group Ahold Delhaize USA, we are paving the way for our industry to protect perishable foods while creating a low-carbon circular economy.”
“We are delighted to work with [Sealed Air] and Ahold Delhaize USA on this important project,” added David Hergenrether, VP, polyethylene at Irving, Texas-based ExxonMobil. “This relationship is an example of the value-chain collaborations needed to enable a more circular economy. We are excited that certified-circular plastics from our Exxtend technology for advanced recycling will play an important role.”
Ahold Delhaize’s family of local brands serves 55 million customers each week, both in stores and online, in the United States, Europe and Indonesia. Together, these brands employ more than 413,000 associates in 7,452 grocery and specialty stores. Ahold Delhaize USA, a division of Zaandam, Netherlands-based Ahold Delhaize, operates more than 2,000 stores across 23 states and is No. 10 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2021 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America. Its brands are Food Lion, FreshDirect, The Giant Co., Giant Food, Hannaford, Stop & Shop, Peapod, and Retail Business Services.