Nestlé Confectionery is introducing eco-minded packaging innovations for Quality Street and KitKat, which together will eliminate more than three billion pieces of packaging from its supply chain.
Firstly, Quality Street is waving goodbye to the double layer of foil and cellulose for its twist-wrapped sweets and shifting to recyclable paper packaging instead.
As a result, Quality Street alone will shed more than two billion pieces of packaging material from the brand’s supply chain.
The transition is now underway and will take several months to complete.
This means that for Christmas 2022, consumers will find a mixture of both the old and new wrappers in their Quality Street cartons, pouches, tubs and tins.
KitKat will see the introduction of wrappers made with 80% recycled plastic.
These can be recycled at more than 5,000 supermarkets across the UK and placed in household recycling in the Republic of Ireland.
The rollout has begun this month on the flagship two-finger products and will be extended across the entire range by 2024.
The packaging updates will be making their way into travel retail in the future.
“These major packaging innovations have been pioneered by our teams here in the UK,” said Richard Watson, Business Executive Officer, Nestlé Confectionery.
“Nestlé Confectionery is taking a leadership position on packaging sustainability as we work towards reducing our use of virgin plastic by one third and making all our packaging recyclable or reusable within the next three years.
“The changes we are announcing have been informed by detailed lifecycle assessments* that have enabled us to identify solutions with a lower environmental impact than our current packaging.”
The new Quality Street wrappers, which were developed by packaging experts at Nestlé’s research and development centre in York, draws upon clever breakthroughs such as a special vegetable-based coating for the paper, which does not hinder the recycling process.
Nine of the 11 Quality Street sweets will move to the paper-based packaging.
The Orange Crunch and the Green Triangle will remain in their foil wrappers as, traditionally, these have not featured cellulose wrappers.
Thanks to the updates, KitKat (which is purchased by more than six in 10 households in the UK) will utilise ‘the highest proportion of recycled food-grade plastic of any major UK and Ireland confectionery brand’, according to the company.
The new KitKat packs feature a number of useful signposting elements for domestic consumers, including the Recycle At Store On-Pack Recycling Label (a UK labelling scheme established by the British Retail Consortium to help consumers correctly reuse and recycle more material).
They’ll also provide information about the Recycling Locator Tool – a platform launched by the national WRAP recycling campaign Recycle Now, which guides consumers to their nearest recycling point.
Supermarkets including Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Co-op, Aldi, and Waitrose now offer soft plastic recycling facilities in stores, while most consumers in the Republic of Ireland can put soft plastics into household recycling.
“We welcome these new initiatives from Nestlé, founding members of The UK Plastics Pact, to improve the recyclability of Quality Street and using advanced recycling technology to include recycled plastic into its KitKat packaging – something we need to significantly ramp up in the UK, and across the world,” said Helen Bird, Head of Business Collaboration, WRAP.
“We look forward to further roll out.”
Nestlé UK & Ireland has been working to improve the sustainability of its confectionery operations and supply chain for over a decade.
Milestone achievements have included sourcing 100% certified sustainable cocoa for all its chocolate and biscuits since the end of 2015.
The company is aiming to halve the carbon footprint of its local fresh milk supply by 2026 – a move that involves helping farmers to adopt sustainable farming practices.
Quality Street is the second Nestlé confectionery brand to introduce paper, following Smarties, which rolled out recyclable paper packaging for all its confectionery products globally in 2021. You can read more about it in our previous report as part of the Travel Retail Sustainability Week pitch programme 2021.
*ISO-compliant Lifecycle Assessments were carried out for both brands, which compared the environmental impacts of their existing packaging material with a range of alternative solutions. These show that the new KitKat wrappers will reduce the carbon footprint of two-finger packaging by about 20% when compared with the existing materials. For Quality Street, the new wrappers represent half the carbon footprint of the foil and cellulose wrappers.