Chocolate Companies Are Trying To Improve Their Packaging To Save The Environment
The candy industry is facing a big shake up — but it’s not the chocolate that’s got to change. Once you’ve happily gobbled up your favorite treat, you’re left with a big smile and a wrapper that becomes just another waste product. Most modern candy wrappers are made from a type of plastic called polypropylene (PP). This can actually be recycled (once you’ve cleaned and dried it), but unfortunately, in candy wrappers it’s mixed with other materials like foil, which make extracting the PP alone too difficult.
That means that all of your candy wrappers end up in a landfill, or potentially make their way into the ocean.
It seems that this issue of ocean pollution is worse than we thought. On May 13th, explorer Victor Vescovo broke the record for the deepest dive when he went seven miles down into the Pacific Ocean’s Mariana Trench — the deepest part of the ocean — only to discover plastic waste, including candy wrappers, on the ocean floor.
The good news is that candy companies big and small are facing up to the problem.
Some are trying to address the impact their packaging is having on the planet by making improvements. And as with many movements, smaller companies are leading the way.
San Francisco-based chocolate company Alter Eco came up with a way to bypass recycling in favor of composting. In 2015, they introduced wrappers made from mostly wood-based material, which breaks down after about six weeks when buried in soil.
Also, the chocolate looks delicious.
At the moment, there are a couple of products that are still using conventional wrapping, but the owners say their ultimate goal is to use wrappers that can be recycled or composted for every single product.
This Earth Day, 800 miles north up the West Coast, fellow indie chocolate makers Seattle Chocolate announced their own version of compostable wrappers.
The company says they make about 12.5 million of their mouthwatering truffles every year, which produces 8,000 pounds of wrapping. Their new compostable wrappers should break down in six to eight weeks, either in a compost bin or in your yard.
To help you work out which of your truffles is sporting the special new wrapping, they’ve added an apple core logo to their wrappers made of the compostable paper. They’re hoping it will be on all of them by 2020.
If you want to see how it works for yourself, visit their factory for a tour, complete with chocolatey wordplay:
It’s not just small companies who are trying to make their chocolate wrappers more sustainable.
In 2016, Mars, Inc. — yes, of Mars Bar fame — won the top prize at the 11th Global Bioplastics Awards for their Snickers wrapper made from potato starch waste.
It was a joint effort, of course. Greener Package explains that Rodenburg Biopolymers produced the material for the wrapper, Taghleef Industries made the film to go inside it, and Mondi’s Consumer Goods Packaging printed the info onto the wrapper.
The irony is that in 2016, Mars got in trouble when plastic was found not in the wrappers, but in the candy itself!
And even if the wrappers improve, there’s always more work to be done.
The green movement goes beyond candy.
In October 2018, 250 organizations around the world joined a campaign by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, pledging to make 100% of their packaging reused, recyclable, or compostable by 2025.
As part of the pledge, on March 14th, 2019, Coca-Cola revealed exactly how much plastic it uses for the first time:
That’s about 15,000 blue whales, according to the BBC. Another big chocolate producer to open up about their plastic production was Nestle, who revealed they make 1.7m tonnes of plastic a year. They’re also pledging to reduce that in 2025:
Some are skeptical:
Others want practical information on how they’re going to achieve this:
It’s a daunting challenge, but let’s hope these companies live up to their promises and make environmentally friendly wrappers the default.