Sector News

Easter packaging trends: Chocolate eggs elevate circular economy with virgin plastic reductions

April 16, 2022
Chemical Value Chain

The rising demand for environmentally sustainable food packaging is infiltrating seasonal packaging this Easter as chocolate brands work to reduce virgin plastic use and explore fiber-based alternatives.

PackagingInsights sits down with Venchi, Robinson Packaging and Montezuma’s to reveal this year’s Easter chocolate packaging trends. We discuss the challenges in switching from plastic to paper packaging, on-pack consumer communication and fiber sourcing.

Roberta Caneschi, marketing and packaging manager at Venchi, Fine Italian Chocolates, based in Milan, Italy, says the company has improved its Easter egg packaging’s environmental sustainability credentials by moving from 100% virgin plastic to 70% recycled material.

Also, Caneschi says Venchi’s Easter egg ribbons, usually consisting of mixed materials, have been replaced by compostable paper solutions. Furthermore, the plastic cases protecting the Easter eggs have been shifted from being purely virgin plastic to 100% recycled plastic.

Meanwhile, Debbie Epstein, marketing director at UK-based Montezuma’s highlights: “All our packaging is either fully recyclable, compostable or biodegradable. Our Easter 2022 range is made out of 100% recyclable carton and the windows in some of our products are made from wood pulp, which is both recyclable and biodegradable.”

Working with suppliers
Caneschi says Venchi tries to buy as much “made-in Italy” material as possible and reduce the total amount of imported products and plastic used.

Likewise, Epstein says: “We have a policy of sourcing our packaging from UK-based suppliers to minimize our carbon footprint and use FSC board or the equivalent wherever possible.”

“All our packaging at Montezuma’s is either fully recyclable, compostable or biodegradable. Our Easter 2022 range is made out of 100% recyclable carton and the windows in some of our products are made from wood pulp, which is both recyclable and biodegradable.”

Epstein says as part of its packaging refresh it audited all the materials it used in the factory and switched all its tape and pallet wrap to environmentally friendly materials. “We also worked with our suppliers to ensure that they implemented the same approach on anything they delivered to us.”

Post-consumer material
UK-based Robinson Packaging, a manufacturer specializing in value-added custom packaging, develops environmentally sustainable packaging for luxury chocolate manufacturer Holdsworth’s Easter chocolate gifts.

Two limited-edition Easter boxes have been produced for Holdsworth’s popping candy egg and Easter bunny treat bag. The packaging has been made from 100% post-consumer recycled paperboard and is widely recyclable. Moreover, the clear viewing window is produced from recycled UK water bottles.

Jon Walker, NPD at Robinson, says: “Recycled paperboard still has the same great quality as virgin material and has exceptional environmental credentials. One of the challenges when it comes to food-based products is that recycled paperboard needs to be lined with a food-grade liner.”

“As part of this solution, we make sure all our liners are recyclable, further ensuring we can close the loop on post-consumer waste.”

“When using UK recycled water bottles in our viewing windows, this contains 60% post-consumer recycled plastic in the middle layer to ensure we meet food-grade requirements. Overall, the environmental impact is lower and uses less virgin material in the product.”

Replacing plastic where possible
For Venchi, a challenge in replacing plastic with paper was that paper is thinner and less shiny, “which is nice and something new,” says Caneschi.

Meanwhile, Epstein says, “the new materials we have introduced have presented a number of challenges in production as they are not as robust and do not have the tensile strength of the previous metallized flow wrap as they are basically made out of paper.”

“Therefore, they initially ripped and tore on [processing] lines. We spent a number of weeks having to modify our machines to be able to cope with the different material.”

Bottle-based windows
Walker explains that when using recycled material, it’s very common that the clarity is slightly affected, but “the clear viewing window is still to a high standard that consumers can clearly see the product and not notice the quality difference.”

“In regards to the comparison between virgin plastic and post-consumer recyclate plastic in functionality, there is no difference and offers the same great protection and quality,” he asserts.

Material sourcing
Walker adds that all of Robinson’s suppliers have been chosen for their high standards, ethics and quality. “All of our plastic viewing windows are sourced from UK suppliers and our paperboard is sourced from the Netherlands, as there is no local source available,” he says.

“We source our board from a small list of suppliers who we have a long-term relationship with. Our suppliers have strong connections to mills in the UK and so have been able to satisfy all our packaging requirements.”

Consumer guidance
Walker says consumers can easily recycle all of Robinson’s paperboard and plastic material through their household recycling scheme, “but it is always good practice to read the instructions on the side of the box, as recycling practices may differ between suppliers due to the materials they use.”

Regarding on-pack consumer communication, Caneschi says on each Easter egg, consumers can find a tag with information and ingredients.

“There is a law in Italy stating packaging companies must communicate information on-pack,” she adds.

Venchi also provides extra information for its resellers and these can be placed at cashiers for consumers to receive extra information about packaging materials and chocolate ingredients.

“Little by little, we try to find the perfect space to display this information,” says Caneschi.

Future ambitions
Venchi wants to shift to 100% recycled materials and reduce materials from the Far East and outside Italy in general.

Meanwhile, Montezuma’s is exploring different ways to reduce its use of plastic, so all of its Easter products now use card inserts as opposed to plastic vacuum-formed trays.

“We will always be committed to reducing the amount of packaging and specifically, the amount of plastic we use in our products and are constantly looking for ways to minimize our impact on the environment,” Epstein says.

By Natalie Schwertheim


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