Tupperware seeks to embrace sustainable future
Environmental safety advocates have continued to urge companies to embrace a circular economy where materials are infinitely reused, and waste becomes non-existent, even as overflowing landfills and waste-ridden seas continue to dominate the headlines.
Among those harkening to that call is direct sales company, Tupperware Brands. Earlier this month, the company announced its vision via a campaign dubbed ‘No Time To Waste’, where it plans to leverage its people and products to push the circular economy forward.
Founded in the 1940s with a lineup of reusable food storage containers, Tupperware believes the move is something that returns the company to its roots.
“One could say we practised sustainability before it was even called that,” said Mark Shamley, VP of social impact for Tupperware. “Our plan is about how to leverage our history and modernize that approach for where we are today.”
Central to Tupperware’s vision is sustainable product design and this summer, they will become one of the first four companies to utilize a new raw material made from mixed plastic waste. The “certified circular polymer” will be used in a line of Tupperware products meant to replace single-use items—including a coffee cup, reusable straw and beverage tumbler.
The initiative to fill Tupperware stores with environmental-friendly products is a positive move for the image of the company, said Shamley.
“This is a global launch for the company that allows us to make a pretty bold statement around reusability and renewable materials,”he said. “It supports claims about the circular economy and, at the same time, provides alternatives to well-known single-use items that are found in waterways and oceans.”
Today, consumer preferences are rapidly changing—particularly among millennials. The majority of Americans now cite sustainability and health benefits as their primary purchasing drivers, even above convenience.
Therefore, there’s a growing number of people who are concerned about recycling and are actively searching for recyclable products.
Though the debate about how plastics can be recycled efficientlyis still raging, the ability to recycle mixed plastic into new food-grade products is a major scientific development, Shamley said.
“When I first came here, this wasn’t an option,” he told us. “But this innovation emerged, and we saw a tremendous opportunity to move forward.”
Tupperware plans to integrate additional circular materials into their product line-upas they become available. The company is “keeping an eye on it,” and are working with various partners and providers to deliver, said Shamley.
Under theNo Time To Wasteinitiative, Tupperware plans to make numerous operational changes. The company is committed to eliminating waste sent to landfill by 2025 and also pioneer newer technologies that will allow 90 percent of returned products to be recycled or reused at the end of their useful lives. Additionally, leveraging on its network of millions of salespeople and customers worldwide, the company believes it can help hasten the move towards more sustainable choices.
“One of the big things for us is: How do we drive consumer behaviours?” Shamley explained in a report. “We have 3 million sales representatives all over the world. Each and every day, week after week, they’re reaching consumers—and they can share insights and tips to help those consumers embrace this notion of wasting less.”
Tupperware is urging its customers to take a low-waste pledge, while equally promoting lifestyle tips to help them “waste less and live more.”Dune Ives, executive director of the non-profit Lonely Whale, said it is important for conversations around healthy environmental behaviour to begin—especially at a time when global consumers use a million plastic bottles every minute.
“We’re all starting to be willing to have a conversation around our behaviour and our everyday choices,” he said.
Shamley noted that Tupperware is confident of successfully driving the initiative due to the strength of its network.
“We’re putting a flag in the ground as a company operationally—knowing that, like many other companies, we have to take care of the things we need to do in-house. But we also feel like we can drive the behaviour of consumers,” said Shamley. “We’re super excited about the utilization of our network.”