Danone accelerates global transition to a Circular Economy

By Jenny Eagle

- Last updated on GMT

Danone partners with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation (EMF). Picture: Danone.
Danone partners with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation (EMF). Picture: Danone.
Danone has signed up to a three-year partnership with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation (EMF) to accelerate the global transition to a circular economy.

Danone is the ninth Global Partner of EMF, which includes Cisco, Google, H&M, Intesa Sanpaolo, Nike, Philips, Renault and Unilever.

Plastics Economy Initiative

It will further embed circular economy principles within and outside the company; have access to education and training through EMF to generate understanding of the circular economy and the Foundation will advise and support Danone to transition brands toward a circular economy.

Danone will also become a Core Partner in the Foundation’s Plastics Economy Initiative, leveraging cross-sector collaboration to re-think and re-design the future of plastics, starting with packaging.

Pascal De Petrini, executive VP, Strategic Resource Cycles, Danone, said participation in the initiative will contribute to efforts to co-build the circular economy of packaging by sourcing sustainable materials and creating a second life for all plastics, as outlined in the company’s Packaging Policy released in November last year. 

It says in its report; ‘There is a need to continuously improve second-life solutions or substitute by materials that can become useful resources with a hierarchy in the efficient use to turn waste back as a valuable resource. This is why waste collection is a clear priority​.’ 

“Over the past years, we have been transforming our approach, and are convinced systemic change is key to foster sustainable business growth and preserve natural resource cycles,” ​he said. 

“Working with EMF will allow us to accelerate our shift to a more circular value chain while continuing to bring health through food to as many people as possible.”

Founded in 2010 by yachtswoman, Dame Ellen MacArthur, the Foundation works to accelerate the transition to a circular economy, collaborating with businesses, government and academia to build a framework for an economy that is restorative and regenerative by design.

It works across five areas: insight and analysis, business and government, education and training, systemic initiatives, and communication.

One million tons of packaging a year 

MacArthur said she was delighted to welcome Danone to the Foundation and as one of the world’s leading food companies, the company brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise of a sector which is critically important. 

Danone uses more than one million tons a year of packaging worldwide (approximately 625,000 tons of plastic, 350,000 tons of paper and board but also glass, aluminum and steel).

Its packaging is made from a mixture of recycled materials (27%), bio-based materials which are derived from natural renewable resources (8%) and materials made from oil, a fossil resource (65%).

An independent survey by Deloitte estimates that while already approximately 42% of the company's packaging is recycled at a global scale (with 37% for plastics alone) and 6% are used to produce energy, more than half of Danone’s post-consumer packaging still does not have a second life, with a higher ratio of non-recycling in developing countries.

MacArthur recently spoke at the first European Circular Economy Summit​, at Barcelona’s Smart City Expo World Congress.

For decades, conventional supply chains have been linear; taking, making and disposing of resources often to landfill.

She said the internet of things (IoT) is allowing the Circular Economy to develop at a much faster pace than before because with 'intelligent assets' which can sense, communicate, and store information manufacturers can create products that signal a problem and determine when it needs to be repaired, which in turn, can reduce waste.

We need to be able to keep a product at its highest value at all times, and when it gets to the end of its life, if we can’t recover the components, we need to be able to recover those materials, and feed that back into the economy again​,” she said.

Circular Economy is systematic change, it’s not the design team that change – it’s the design team, the manufacturing team, it’s the reprocessing team, the marketing and financing team, because that entire product fits within a different system​.

With the Ellen MacArthur Foundation we are trying to accelerate this transition as fast as we can​.”

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