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Confectioners on track for environmentally friendly Christmas

By Caroline Scott-Thomas , 17-Nov-2008

An industry initiative to reduce seasonal confectionery packaging waste has gathered pace with many manufacturers embracing biodegradable packaging and reducing package volume.

This week, Nestle UK, which manufactures festive favourite Quality Street, has adopted Innovia’s NatureFlex film – a cellulose made from sustainable wood pulp – for its individual sweet wrappers. And the company has turned to Plantic bioplastic as well, a starch-based plastic packaging which biodegrades on contact with water.

Several major players signed up to the Seasonal Confectionery Industry Working Group when it was launched by the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) in March, including Nestle UK, Mars UK and Cadbury-Trebor-Bassett, leading to many of them making the switch to more environmentally friendly packs.

Although the main objective of the campaign was to reduce packaging volume by at least 25 per cent, many manufacturers have gone even further by replacing plastics with biodegradable versions.

Marks and Spencer has also started using Plantic for its confectionery packaging and Cadbury’s ‘Purple Goes Green’ campaign involves reduced packaging and the inclusion of a recycling symbol on its packages.

The push for sustainable seasonal packaging was initially intended to ensure confectioners changed their packaging in time for Easter next year but many have already made changes, meaning a reduction in confectionery waste this Christmas.

Maintaining consumer appeal

According to WRAP, one of the major challenges is reducing packaging without compromising consumer appeal and brand recognition, so manufacturers have turned to these new technologies that maintain the appearance of their products, while also reducing packaging volume as much as they can.

WRAP special adviser Mark Barthel said: “Many major players in the seasonal confectionery industry have signed up to this group…they are ensuring that issues relating to packaging are taken into account and that consumer appeal is retained. This in turn will ensure changes can be made across the industry.”

Due to the long lead times involved in seasonal confectionery production, new packages had not been expected to appear on retailers’ shelves until April 2009.

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