Article first appeared in Australia’s PKN Packaging News on Nov. 28, 2022.
Mars Wrigley Australia’s move to paper-based wrappers for its chocolate bar lines marks a world-first for the company and is in line with the growing global trend for brands to switch from single-use plastics and adopt fiber-based packaging materials that it says are curbside recyclable.
The company will roll out the new paper-based packaging for its Mars Bar, Snickers, and Milky Way chocolate bar lines nationally from April next year, with plans for its full chocolate bar portfolio to transition.
The packaging, made from sustainably sourced FSC-certified paper, was developed and trialed at Mars Wrigley’s manufacturing site in Ballarat, Australia. The Ballarat-based R&D team leading this project is pioneering paper-based sustainable packaging solutions for the Mars Wrigley business globally. The plan is for the technology, learnings, and insights developed and deployed locally in Australia to be shared and implemented in other Mars Wrigley markets across the globe.
The packaging material is manufactured locally by Amcor. Chris Hutton, R&D director, told PKN, “As this is a world-first for Mars Wrigley, we didn’t have a playbook or a road map to follow, so our local R&D team worked really closely with Amcor Australia and New Zealand to come up with a solution that maintained the quality and freshness of our product, whilst working efficiently with our machinery and technology in the factory.
“They have been an incredible partner to work with and they’ve played a pivotal role in getting to where we are today.” PKN asked about the composition of the paper material, and how it was achieving the requisite barrier properties, to which Hutton responded, “Our paper-based packaging is made up of 86 percent paper, a thin plastic barrier to ensure the quality and freshness of the product is maintained, seals and inks for labelling. While the packaging features a very thin plastic barrier, it remains able to be recycled via curbside recycling as validated by APCO’s PREP tool.”
|Packaging Word covered another Mars Wrigley transition from plastic- to paper-based flow-packed candy bars in the Balisto brand in 2021. Read the story here.|
Hutton confirmed Mars Wrigley is currently working on the second iteration of this packaging, which will remove the thin plastic barrier, and this will be available by the end of 2023.
“The transition to paper-based packaging for our locally made chocolate bars marks a significant milestone in our sustainability journey,” says Andrew Leakey, general manager of Mars Wrigley Australia. “Mars’ ongoing investment in local R&D has allowed us to be agile and create solutions that have a positive impact on our environment, meet our stringent quality and food safety standards but are also convenient for our consumers to recycle via curbside recycling.”
Leakey says ensuring consumers had easy access to recycle the new packaging was “crucially important” to the company. “As one of the largest snacks and treats manufacturers in Australia, Mars has a responsibility to reduce our environmental footprint right across our business, including packaging. The launch of our new paper-based packaging is a significant step for us towards our local and global packaging targets.”
The step by Mars has been welcomed by Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) CEO Chris Foley, who said Mars Wrigley’s new packaging was a prime example of innovation within the food industry to meet packaging targets.
“Mars Wrigley’s switch to paper-based packaging sets an “excellent example to all businesses in Australia of the critical role innovative packaging formats that are more readily recyclable play in meeting the 2025 National Packaging Targets,” Foley says.
The packaging will incorporate the Australasian Recycling Label (ARL) to provide clear instructions to consumers on how to recycle. Once the Australian-made chocolate bar portfolio is fully transitioned to paper-based packaging, Mars Wrigley says it is set to eliminate more than 360 tonnes [397 tons] of plastic from its value chain. This, the company says, will contribute to its aim of creating a circular economy and achieving the 2025 National Packaging Targets.
Mars Wrigley’s transition to FSC-certified paper materials for its wrappers is a move applauded by CEO of FSC Australia and New Zealand, Melanie Robertson, who says it “sends an essential message about the importance of choosing forest-friendly alternatives to single-use plastics”.
“FSC ANZ is proud to partner with Mars Wrigley and congratulates them on this demonstration of support for the responsible management of the world’s forests.”
As part of the company’s commitment to its $1B Sustainable in a Generation plan, Mars Wrigley says it is “committed both in Australia and globally to supporting and creating a circular economy where packaging never becomes waste.”
Mars Wrigley’s new paper-based packaging will be available on 47- and 64-g Mars Bars, 44- and 64-g Snickers, and 45-g Milky Way at all leading supermarkets and convenience stores in Australia beginning in April 2023.