The Kraft Heinz Company's Linda Roman on Collaborative Approaches to Sustainability

Maia Jenkins
Editor
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Working at one of the biggest consumer goods companies in the world, Linda Roman, associate director of packaging ESG & technology at The Kraft Heinz Company, has a front-row seat to just how important packaging can be in the quest to be more sustainable. Discussing Kraft Heinz's approach, Linda delves into the crucial role of technology and collaboration across the value chain, and the challenges and opportunities in achieving sustainability goals. From aligning packaging strategies with business outcomes to measuring success through specific KPIs, Linda provides us with an optimistic overview of Kraft Heinz's journey toward a more sustainable future, while highlighting that we are, indeed, all in this together. Listen to learn: 

  • How Kraft Heinz balances innovation with circularity goals 
  • Why Kraft Heinz emphasizes a culture of creativity and innovation to drive sustainability and embeds ESG in all facets of its business 
  • Why sustainability is such a key focus for Kraft Heinz 
  • How Kraft Heinz leverages technology, including AI, machine learning, data analytics, and supply chain technologies, to drive its sustainability efforts 
  • The importance of partnering with organizations and participating in committees to establish industry-wide protocols and standards for sustainability 
  • Examples of Kraft Heinz’s collaborations with retailers in recycling soft plastics and refillable packaging 
  • How Kraft Heinz measures success through KPIs, progress tracking, and reporting Upcoming projects, including prototype testing for sustainable packaging solutions 

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Excerpts: 

On innovation and invention: “Technology is a key driver of our sustainability efforts, and it helps us deliver on consumer expectations. We have to protect the product while delivering the same functionality or the expected functionality that consumers know, love, and want. So, we lever different types of technology enablers across the supply chain and we seek help to develop these solutions, working with existing suppliers where possible. In some cases where we can't find a solution we may invent internally.”

On balancing business and ESG goals: “Sustainability is not just a nice to have at Kraft Heinz. And when we think about it, building it into our KPIs for the leadership team is critical. It's not something that we've done all along, but it's something that we've instituted in the last year or so. It truly ensures that senior leaders and stakeholders link their goals with the overall business KPIs. We can't compromise on meeting our consumer expectations again or delivering on that consumer promise.”

On working with retailers: “Research has shown that consumers want to shop at stores that prioritize sustainability, so we've been working closely with our retail partners to ensure that they can bring the sustainable options onto their store shelves to meet consumer needs. One example is with Heinz and Tesco. We worked with Tesco, the third largest retailer in the world, to launch a pioneering trial that could potentially lead to important changes across the wider food industry when it comes to tackling the UK's soft plastic recycling challenge. We took soft plastics returned to Tesco stores by consumers and then we worked with specialists to create recyclable Heinz bean snap pots with 39% recycled soft plastics. This pilot project's projected to recycle approximately 22 tons of plastic.”

On KPIs and measuring progress: “For every ESG commitment we have a measurement in place to track our progress and as mentioned earlier We're embedding ESG into all facets of our business and our cross-functional partners and leaders have KPIs for our commitments And that's critical to drive sustainability. It cannot just be pushed from one function to the company It has to be adopted by senior leadership across the different functions along with measurement and reporting stories behind the progress. We recently released our 2023 ESG report together at the table outlining progress against our goals and we need to share the journey externally not only for our consumers, and our customers but to inspire the industry as well so we can continually share learnings across the industry.”

On collaboration: “I love this space because it is so collaborative across other CPGs. We're all working together. Keith Harrison from the Recycling Partnership said we're all in the bin together, right? And we are. And so we all have to work together. And if you look at it, there's always, sometimes there's challenges in all of these huge hurdles that we're trying to overcome. I hear news of hear news of, ‘oh recycling's not working’ or ‘there's too many hurdles,’ etc. I think where the industry comes together and if we think and get discouraged and think we can't do something as a community, as an industry, we can come together and we can make things happen.” 


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