The Hershey Co. has redesigned the display-ready case for its chocolate packaged candy, proving that significant sustainability advantages can be achieved simply by rethinking the structure of an existing package. In fact, moving from a two-piece design to a one-piece box has resulted in a 32% decrease in corrugated materials.
Greg Gressel, Director of Disruptive Supply Chain for Hershey, says the project was driven by the need to find a balance between packaging that could market Hershey’s brands and convey important nutritional information, while at the same time reduce the impact of Hershey’s packaging footprint. “These changes are part of our broader efforts to minimize the environmental impact of Hershey’s operations, reduce waste, and prioritize the health and safety of our employees,” he says.
In 2016, Hershey launched its “25 by 25” sustainability goals, which aim to reduce the company’s GHG emissions, water use, and waste by 25%, and reduce packaging materials by 25 million pounds by 2025, all measured against 2015 levels. Its display-ready case for everyday and seasonal items was an ideal place to begin looking for material savings.
The previous packaging design was a traditional two-piece display-ready case, with a display case inside, fitted with a center divider, and a corrugated hood that fit over the tray. For this design, there were 450 unique tray sizes, and 450 covers for each tray, resulting in 900 different items that Hershey had to design, track, and manage. “With the new packaging, our priority was to reduce the complexity and transition to a modular approach to optimize our offering,” says Gressel.
Hershey began reassessing the design of its display-ready cases in summer 2016, with 90% of the redesign done by members of its in-house engineering team and graphic designers. At the same time, Hershey worked with its corrugated suppliers to execute the display-ready case.
The new structure is a one-piece box with a patent-pending corrugated piece on the front that can be popped off without perforation, meaning store associates can set up the boxes more quickly and no longer need knives to open the packaging. The center divider has been eliminated for better presentation, and the ends of the box have been strengthened through a double layer of corrugated for more stable end-cap execution. By optimizing the design, Hershey now requires just six different case sizes, requiring 72 components across its portfolio, versus 900.
Another change to the package is the use of late-stage differentiation, where Hershey is now using labels for the display-ready case, rather than preprinting the case. Says the company, switching to labels allows for the use of enhanced printing and digital design techniques. It also eliminates the waste resulting from unused boxes.
All in all, Hershey reports that the new display-ready case design uses 3.12 million fewer pounds of corrugated—the equivalent of 24,000 trees saved, 148 trucks taken off the road for one year, and a CO2 reduction of 1,340 metric tons—and takes 62% less time for associates to open and set up in the store.
The new display-ready case was tested in Walmart during the 2016 Halloween and holiday seasons. Following a successful trial, Hershey rolled out the new design in July 2017 in retailers nationwide.