You may think it common sense that snacks should utilise packaging that can be recycled, but until now manufacturers of crisps and snacks generally use packaging that can only be put into landfill or incinerated.
Nestle has now launched a new recyclable paper snack bar wrapper that can be used on a high-speed packaging line in a “world-first” technological breakthrough.
The YES! snack bar range will become the first brand to convert to the new packaging made from sustainable coated paper that is widely recyclable and will degrade in a marine environment within six months.
Experts at the confectionery company’s research and development centre in York had to overcome more than 90 challenges to develop the material and adapt current packaging machinery and processes to handle the product more gently.
The 300 bars-per-minute “flow wrap cold seal” packing process has previously only been suitable for use with more durable plastic films and laminates.
But the team at Nestle took just 10 months to create the paper wrapper and adapt production lines to ensure the bars are kept in perfect condition during packaging, transport and storage.
The development of the new wrapper comes after Nestle pledged last year to make all of its packaging recyclable or reusable by 2025.
It will be rolled out on the YES! fruit and nut-based bars from July and will carry the message “carefully wrapped in paper”.
Jas Scott de Martinville, global confectionery research and development lead for Nestlé, said: “Paper packaging has been used in chocolate-based products in the past.
“What’s unique about this innovation is, first and foremost, running paper packaging at high speed on existing machinery, 300-bars-per-minute, that’s the first bit of uniqueness; the second bit of uniqueness is guaranteeing a standard shelf-life of nine months, so having a barrier paper that keeps the product at its freshest over that time; and the third element of it is to ensure, as we run at these high speeds, the bars are properly sealed, again to ensure the product is kept at its freshest.
“It’s a world-first in terms of the combination of these factors to bring to life this product.”
Ms Scott de Martinville said the team had to overcome more than 90 different challenges to deliver the first recyclable paper packaging within 10 months.
She said speed was essential to ensure the company is on track to meet its 2025 target for wholly recyclable or reusable packaging.
She said: “In light of this commitment, it’s really important that we start the journey now and start showing the way, leading the way, in terms of alternative packaging materials.”
She added: “Now that we have delivered our first, we will continue to work and we will be seeing more from Nestle in this domain.”
Bruce Funnell, head of packaging at Nestle, said: “This has been a real first for us.
“Really this is the first confectionery product bar that’s wrapped at high speed and is ensuring we have a good shelf life without compromise to the consumer.”
Mr Funnell said the wrappers contained around 60% recyclable fibres.
Michael Carroll, senior packaging specialist and lead on innovation and sustainability for Nestle, added that the packaging would degrade in a marine environment more quickly than current plastic packaging.
He said: “We know it will degrade in a marine environment within six months, which, compared to the flow wrap that it’s currently in, it’s about 450 years.”