Binning assumptions on packaging

Pret A Manger

Pret A Manger commissioned 3Keel to conduct a life cycle assessment using its customer and contractor behaviours to identify the materials, formats and locations that would have the least environmental impact from cradle-to-grave. The results were converted into a dynamic tool that can be used by Pret to assess the impacts of changing materials and sourcing locations in an interactive way that is simple to use and understand. Together, these outputs are informing the development and the evolution of their sustainable packaging specification.

Over the last few years the drive to have lighter weight recyclable packaging has led to a step change in the way the food and drink company approaches  design. However as companies have increased their understanding of what materials they are buying into the business, there hasn’t necessarily been the direct supply chain view as to what actually happens when customers ultimately dispose of their packaging in the real world beyond using standard national statistics.

Pret engaged 3Keel to help them understand which of their packaging formats were contributing the most to their environmental impact by using life cycle assessment methods across their entire product portfolio. Going beyond national statistics, specific end of life statistics were applied to the different packaging formats and regional locations to inform what materials would have the least impact depending on customer and supplier disposal capabilities.

3Keel worked with Pret and Valpak to collect and review their existing packaging specifications and complete the analysis using their business and supplier information. Once the initial analysis was completed, 3Keel created a rapid life cycle assessment dashboard that enables Pret to determine the environmental impacts of changing supplier manufacturing locations, materials and formats within minutes across a number of metrics.

Armed with the evidence for how Pret’s packaging portfolio performed, five formats were identified for priority action that collectively contributed to more than half the environmental impact of all their packaging. These products were then assessed by 3Keel and Pret for reduction opportunities and a transition glide path was developed to lowering their collective impact.

John Isherwood, Head of Sustainability, said: 

“We have been working to utilise more responsible packaging for some time.  On the surface one might think choosing packaging with less impact should be a simple process, however the fast pace of change in both the packaging and the waste industries has made choosing the optimal environmental solution challenging.  With 3Keel's support we now have a credible and flexible tool, better understanding and ultimately the confidence to make informed decisions that pave the way for a better total position.  It won’t happen overnight but now we have a plan for how to get there. They have been a valuable partner in breaking down the challenges and solutions in a business-friendly way that can be readily implemented by our wider team."

Project lead

Will Schreiber

“3Keel have been a valuable partner in breaking down the challenges and solutions in a business-friendly way that can be readily implemented by our wider team."

John Isherwood - Head of Sustainability, Pret A Manger