In order to get closer to the sustainability targets set for 2025, Nestlé is taking a big step: the packaging concept for Smarties is being converted internationally to paper. A total of 10 million euros has been invested in the conversion at the Hamburg site alone.
Previously, only 10 percent of Smarties products were packaged in recyclable paper. Now Nestlé uses only recyclable paper packaging for the brand worldwide. It’s a big step for the company: after all, the brand has cult status – and that includes the recognition value of the packaging. “Shifting Smarties packaging to recyclable paper is one of our key sustainable packaging initiatives in the confectionery category,” emphasized Alexander von Maillot, Global Head of Confectionery at Nestlé.
Nestlé aims to make all packaging recyclable or reusable by 2025 and use one-third less virgin plastic. With the change, the company now saves about 250 million plastic packages a year. According to the company, the new Smarties paper packaging comes from sustainable sources and consists of coated paper, paper labels or cardboard. The material can be disposed of in the waste paper garbage can just like any newsprint, Nestlé assures. Of course, the cycle is only closed if consumers actually dispose of the product packaging properly in the end. To support this, easy-to-understand recycling instructions are printed on the back of the packaging. After all, children are a core target group for the brand.
Investment in new formats
For the changeover, York’s own confectionery research center collaborated with Nestlé’s Packaging Research Institute in Lausanne. “We adapted our existing manufacturing lines to allow for the careful handling that is required for paper, while also ensuring recyclability across all new formats,” said Louise Barrett, head of Nestlé’s Product Technology Center in York.
At the Hamburg chocolate factory, which supplies Smarties to more than 50 countries around the world, around 10 million euro had to be invested for the changeover. “We are on the way to more sustainable packaging. Smarties in paper is an important step on this journey, for which we are very happy to go the extra mile,” emphasizes Carmen Borsche, responsible for the German confectionery business. Among other things, the iconic Smarties roll had to be significantly adapted and now has the angular shape of a hexagon. By switching to paper, the Hamburg site now saves over 190 tons of plastic in production.
The switch to paper also occurs against the background that packaging solutions for food-grade recycled plastic are still comparatively rare. Nestlé is also active in this area: At the beginning of 2020, the company announced that it would invest up to two billion Swiss francs to drive forward the switch from virgin plastics to food-grade, recycled plastics.