Plastic Sustainability Education Hub


Reducing waste & creating plastic sustainability through products, performance, and partners, by minimizing operational impacts, reducing product impacts, and maximizing positive impacts through partnerships.


Reducing waste & creating plastic sustainability through products, performance, and partners.

  • We are minimizing operational impacts
  • We are reducing product impacts
  • We are maximizing positive impacts through partnerships

Creating Sustainability Through Plastic Product Optimization

The Goal: Minimize product impacts

How We Optimize Design:

  • Create lightweight products
  • Design 100% of packaging to be reusable, recyclable, or compostable

How We Utilize Sustainable Sourcing:

  • Increase recycled content
  • Encourage the development of renewable materials

Creating Sustainability Through Performance

The Goal: Minimize operational impacts

How We Prevent Climate Change:

  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions 25% by 2025 compared to 2016

How We Continuously Improve:

  • Reduce landfill waste 5% per year
  • Reduce energy and water consumption 1% per year

How We Function Through Operation Clean Sweep® (OCS):

  • Prevent resin loss through OCS
  • Implement OCS at acquisition sites within the first year

Creating Sustainability Through Partners

The Goal: Maximize positive impacts by engaging partners on key issues

How We End Plastic Waste:

  • Expand and modernize waste infrastructure to increase recovery and prevent loss of plastic to the environment
  • Engage the plastics industry on OCS

How We Limit Global Warming:

  • Increase renewable energy
  • Expand the use of plastic in place of alternative materials
  • Promote science-based targets

Quick Plastic Facts

  • It takes 82% less energy to produce, process, and transport plastic than alternatives.

  • Five plastic bottles (PET) recycled provides enough fiber to create one square foot of carpet.

  • Using plastic generates 2.6 times less greenhouse gas emissions than alternative materials like metal.

A Message from Berry Global's CEO

At Berry, our Mission of Always Advancing to Protect What’s Important drives our commitment to building a more sustainable future. As a company, we are taking advantage of the benefits of plastics to lightweight products and decrease greenhouse gas emissions, while also emphasizing recyclability and the use of recycled content. We are also engaging with our suppliers, customers, industry partners, and the communities in which we operate to ultimately improve the positive sustainability impact of our company and our industry. Our sustainability strategy reflects the importance with which we view this aspect of our business. Our continuous improvement mindset will drive our efforts of Always Advancing to Protect What’s Important.

Thank you, and warmest regards,

Tom Salmon
Chairman and CEO

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Food & Plastic Packaging

The Goal: Create Sustainability Through Preservation & Packaging

Some may view the plastic packaging surrounding fresh food as unnecessary. They may feel that “no packaging” is the best option. However, keep in mind that perishables aren’t typically immediately consumed after they’re purchased. This plastic surrounding your perishables has created a positive impact in several ways.

Plastic Food Packaging

  • Can triple a fruit or vegetable’s longevity
  • Prevents food waste and spoilage, dramatically reducing greenhouse gas emissions 
  • Reduces the spreading of food-related diseases
  • Prevents harmful gases from being absorbed by the perishables inside
  • Allows people without access to proper food storage to eat safely

Source – Rethink Plastic Packaging



What Plastic Can I Put in the Microwave?

There are several symbols that let the user know whether that specific variation of plastic can be heated. We all need to be aware of whether or not our product is microwaveable or dishwasher safe. Products that aren’t specifically designed to specifically withstand high microwave temperatures could potentially warp or contaminate the food inside. All of these symbols signify that these items are safe to use in a microwave.

Source – Microwave Container Use


We All Waste Too Much. Let's Prevent That.

Because of spoilage, the United States throws away 40% of the meat, poultry, and seafood purchased every year. How the plastics industry works to fix meat spoilage: vacuum-sealed plastic packaging prevents meat oxidation, doubling the shelf life.

Preventing Food Perishability Around the Globe

However, prolonged shelf life and transport protection are important everywhere, especially when considering how much food is thrown away. Optimized packaging is always better than discarded food if we compare the costs and benefits from an environmental and financial point of view.

Source – Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAQ), 2015

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Plastic Innovation & Affordability 

Approaching the Circular Economy Through Sustainability

The Goal: Reach a Circular Economy

With a circular economy, we focus on a make, use, and recycle society. Alternatively, the take, make, dispose approach is one of the linear economy. By designing for recyclability, we can work towards the ultimate goal of a circular economy, where products are able to either be reused or recycled. By utilizing the principles of a circular economy, we can preserve valuable resources, keeping them in use for years to come and ultimately reducing our environmental impacts.

What makes a circular economy different?

A circular economy brings product innovation to create a society where resources are reused rather than disposed. Landfill space is reduced. Less material is wasted.

The Value of Recovering & Repurposing Plastics

Plastics are typically lighter than other manufacturing materials like metal & glass. This lightweight characteristic allows plastic products to be handled with ease and to perform their intended functions with superiority, thus making it an attractive material for manufacturers. However, we all need to get much better at recycling plastic on a global scale as we attempt to reach the “circular model” of recycling.

Through recovery and recycling, we keep plastics out of the ocean, while harnessing their inherent value to manufacture more eco-conscious products. As the plastics industry develops and optimizes its plastic collection programs, more plastics will be recovered, and more repurposing will occur within the plastics manufacturing industry.

As a leader in sustainable packaging, we place a high value on innovation surrounding the methods by which we recover valuable plastic materials.

Tom Salmon, Chairman and CEO of Berry Global

Once Plastics are Recovered, Markets will Expand

As more plastic becomes available for reuse, emerging markets and technologies will use this recycled plastic for valuable, innovative products, resulting in the development of the circular economy.

Source –

We're Already Making Progress

“America’s Plastic Makers” already have these progressive projects in place:

  • Materials Recovery for the Future (MRFF) – A research initiative that studies the potential to collect discarded flexible plastic packaging.

  • Recover More Plastic – A program that provides tools and resources for communities to collect plastics at curbside.

  • Closed Loop Partners – An investment platform for sustainable consumer goods and recycling aimed at those interested in helping with the development of the circular economy.

Find out about more innovative sustainability projects right here.

The Push for Innovation and Affordability 

In order to preserve the positive effects the industry has on the U.S. economy, we need to bring innovation and affordability to plastic product manufacturing through sustainability.

The Fast Facts: 

  • Plastics is the 3rd largest manufacturing industry in the US
  • 1.7 Million jobs are dependent on plastics manufacturing.
  • 993,000 people are directly employed by the plastics industry.

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Plastic Myths Debunked: The Truth Behind the Talk

From production to pollution, there are plenty of plastic facts you should know. Let’s dive in.


Most plastics in the ocean are a result of improper care by the plastic industry.


Most plastic waste in the ocean comes from lack of infrastructure, lack of education, and human error.

The majority of marine debris comes from:

  • Landfills
  • Overflowing bins
  • Thoughtlessly discarded trash
  • Waste incorrectly disposed of in the toilet
  • Fishing nets
  • Lost materials from freight ships

Sources of microplastic in the ocean: cosmetic products, cleaning agents, materials that result from the washing of plastic clothing, pulverized plastic waste (due to time and erosion).

Source – GVM Resource Efficiency, 2014; Analysis + Calculation by Berndt+Partner Consultants, 2018


Biobased and biodegradable plastics are the same thing.


While these types of plastics are both considered “bioplastics,” they are very different concepts.

Biobased plastics materials are partly or completely made from renewable raw materials. Copolyester systems, starch-based materials, polylactic acid, and cellulose materials are primarily used to create these biobased plastics today. They can be, but do not have to be, biodegradable.

Biodegradable plastics, under specific conditions determined by temperature, humidity, and oxygen, and time, can be converted into water, carbon dioxide, and biomass.


Most crude oil within the industry is used for packaging.


Only 4-6% of the oil and gas industry’s crude oil is used to produce plastic.

The majority of the plastic industry’s oil and gas reserve is used for transport, traffic, energy, and heating.

Source – GVM Resource Efficiency, 2014; Analysis + Calculation by Berndt+Partner Consultants


Most waste is plastic waste.



Household waste only accounts for 8.3% of all waste generated. Only 12% of that 8.3% household waste is plastic.

There are several other elements, materials, and actions that account for the majority of waste generation.

Source – GVM Resource Efficiency, 2014; Analysis + Calculation by Berndt+Partner Consultants, 2018



The plastic industry is not doing anything to reduce plastic consumption.


Through package optimization alone, the resulting material and weight reduction (an average of 25%), is saving 6.1 billion tons of plastic consumption and usage in Western Europe every year.

Packaging for Food Safety

In many countries, the hygienic and climatic conditions are very different in Europe and America. There are far fewer refrigerated vehicles and refrigerators in third world countries and underdeveloped areas, making packaging extremely important. A lengthy shelf life for perishables is crucial for preventing sickness and sustaining the region’s population growth.

Source – Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAQ), 2015)


No packaging is always the best option.


Many foods can be stored for much longer with the right packaging, therefore reducing food waste.

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Optimizing Plastics for Positive Environmental Impact

The Goal: Create A Positive Environmental Impact

To help, Berry Global Group, Inc. has joined the Alliance to End Plastic Waste as a founding member. Read more about that here.

While the amount of plastic waste entering the ocean from land each year exceeds 4.8 million metric tons, under 3% of the ocean’s total microplastic waste comes from retail plastic products.

Where do Microplastics Come From?


So How Does it Happen?

How does all this plastic end up in the ocean surrounding the U.S. and other large bodies of water within it? While wind and other earthly elements can take the blame for some of the negative environmental impacts caused by pollution, we’re the biggest culprit.

How People in the United States Improperly Dispose of Plastics:

  • By overflowing trash cans
  • By thoughtless littering
  • By incorrectly flushing trash down toilets
  • By using fishing nets created from synthetic textiles
  • By the mass-littering caused by the improper transportation methods of plastics freight

Source – GVM Resource Efficiency, 2014; Analysis + Calculation by Berndt+Partner Consultants, 2018


How Can We Prevent Plastic Waste?

How can we sustain our modern lifestyle while preserving the beauty and health of the environment that lets us live that way? And when humans make mistakes through accidental littering, how can we prevent these mistakes from resulting in negative environmental impact?

For Consumers & the General Public

Let's Start Simple:

Understand where trash cans should be placed: recycling bins or trash cans. Many cities and counties have bins that are specifically colored. This might seem elementary, but there's a reason why so many places have spent money to make the distinction. Plastics contaminated by other elements can potentially lose their recyclable value. Be cautious when disposing of any items that could potentially be considered recyclable.

Understand Resin Identification Codes

Every single plastic container is legally required to have a resin identification code (RIC) that informs you of the product’s plastic grade.

A Breakdown of the Resin Identification Codes:

1 - Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET)

Example: Drink Bottles

2 - High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE)

Example: Milk Jugs

3 - Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)

Example: Pipes & Flooring

4 - Low-Density Polyethylene (LDPE)

Example: Plastic Bags

5 - Polypropylene (PP)

Example: Dairy Containers (think sour cream)

6 - Polystyrene (PS)

Example: Food Trays

7 - Other Plastics like Nylon, Acrylic, Polycarbonate (PC), and Polylactic Acid (PLA)

Example: Tents & Sleeping Bags

Understand everything there is to know about resin identification codes right here. The more educated our community becomes, the cleaner our oceans will be. Join us in taking the first steps toward creating an enlightened community and a brighter future for our world and everything that lives within it.

For Plastic Manufacturers:

Berry Global is proudly affiliated with the American Chemistry Council, an organization that helps the world better understand the science behind sustainability. We stand with the scientists and policy-makers who have discovered ways to improve waste management prevention measures.

Create environmentally-friendly plastic products and improve waste management systems.

A Commitment to Reduction

Energy Reduction

Manufacturing is energy-intensive. Furthermore, plastic is typically derived from energy sources such as natural gas. As our facility footprint continues to grow and as we increase automation in our facilities, we are cognizant of the fact that our energy usage will grow as well.

To maximize our energy efficiency, we:

  • Identify, share, and translate utilities best practices across our company
  • Systematically replace energy-intensive processes with energy efficient processes
  • Train our employees to identify electrical, gas, and water waste
  • Implement ISO 50001 Energy Management Systems compliant processes to reduce energy intensity

Water Usage Reduction

Water is one of our most critical natural resources, and it’s becoming more scarce. In order to better understand our water impact, we used the World Resources Institute’s Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas to analyze water risk (including Physical Quantity, Physical Quality, and Regulatory & Reputational risks) for each of our manufacturing sites.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction

We acknowledge the importance of knowing and mitigating our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, which is why we track both our Scope 1 and Scope 2 GHG emissions. Our GHG inventory was initially verified for method and accuracy by the EPA as part of the Climate Leaders program.

Electricity represents the vast majority of our Scope 1 and Scope 2 GHG emissions, followed by natural gas. We will, therefore, drive GHG emissions reductions through our efforts to improve energy efficiency. We also support renewable energy as an important method to reduce GHG emissions. To understand the scale of our other energy sources, please refer to our GRI Index.

Landfill Waste Reduction

Although we focus on near‐term reduction goals, Berry Global has a long‐term vision to be “Best in Class” both in terms of our waste generation as well as our waste intensity (landfill waste per pound processed) as part of our efforts to achieve Operational Excellence.

Right now, over 350 marine debris prevention projects are underway around the globe.

How We're Optimizing Our Plastic Products:

Our #1 objective is to be the industry leader in sustainable packaging. As we reach for that goal, and as we strive to minimize negative product impact, we:

  • Create lightweight products
  • Design 100% of packaging to be reusable, recyclable, or compostable
  • Encourage the development of renewable materials
  • Practice sustainable sourcing for recyclable content
  • Have taken the Operation Clean Sweep® pledge, committing to work toward zero resin pellet, powder and flake loss.

Read more about the plastic industry’s waste management initiatives here.

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Plastic Safety

The Goal: Create Plastic Sustainability Through Safety & Standards

The plastic products we use on a daily basis should be helpful and safe by default. Our mandatory routine checks and rigorous safety standards exist to ensure that brands, business owners, and consumers are happy with the quality and safety present in every single plastic product. Safety takes time, resources, and care. We have the unique opportunity to provide our clients and customers with all three.

Who Tests Plastic Products?

Along with the plastic manufacturer, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) tests all plastic products to ensure they meet strict plastic standards and guidelines. Sometimes the packaging is even tested more thoroughly than the food inside it.