Bloomberg — Nestle SA is responding to criticism that the food industry uses too much plastic by introducing paper wrapping for a confectionery bar, made in a way it calls an industry first.
The Swiss food company said it will start selling Yes fruit and nut bars for Europe in paper after developing a method to use that material at the high speeds necessary for packaging a mass consumer product. Normally the machines that wrap such food items rely on plastic because it’s resilient, stretchable and light.
Food and beverage companies around the world have come under pressure from consumers and environmental groups like Greenpeace to stop producing so much plastic. Nestle is also working on an out-of-home water dispensing system based on refillable bottles as it seeks to fulfill a pledgeto make all of its packaging recyclable or reusable by 2025.
“Moving from plastic to paper is not easy,” said Jas Scott de Martinville, head of Nestle’s product technology center for confectionery.
The Vevey, Switzerland-based company’s efforts could spur others in the confectionery industry to tackle the plastics challenge — even though it will take some time before Nestle can wrap a range of products in paper, according to Scott de Martinville. The company is also looking at alternatives, such as reusing plastic.
Greenpeace representatives called on Nestle to change its ways at its annual general meeting in April, saying that substituting plastic with paper would shift destructive practices into deforestation. Nestle said the paper it uses comes from sustainable sources and is certified by non-profit organizations Forest Stewardship Council and the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification. Greenpeace has urged the company to focus on delivery systems based on refilling and reusing containers.
Nestle has exclusivity to the paper-packaging technology with a supplier, which it declined to identify. A water-based coating is added to the paper to seal it, ensuring freshness and shelf life.
Nestle said it adapted its existing equipment to wrap between 300 bars to 500 bars per minute, which is the same speed at which it wraps with plastic. Yes bars contain ingredients such as nuts, fruit and chocolate, and Nestle started selling them in the U.K. last year.
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