In September, Nestlé’ Japan announced that it would be accelerating efforts to tackle the issue of plastic waste by converting KITKAT outer bag packaging to paper. The leading five KITKAT multipack product of KITKAT chocolate confection has had the converted outer packaging since late September 2019. Launching paper packaging for its popular miniature KitKat chocolate bars is a first step in the bid to reduce plastic waste.
Previously packaged in glossy plastic, the mini multipack KitKat chocolate bars will now come with an outer wrap in foldable matte, FSC certified paper that has a water-based coating. However, the new packaging won’t just be more environmentally friendly—it will also be fun. Each package will include instructions that encourage consumers to fold the paper into an origami crane.
Back in April 2018, Nestlé’ announced the company would be committed to using only 100% recyclable or reusable candy packaging for its own products by 2025. Nestlé’ has previously come under fire for its lack of environmentally sustainable practices, and in March, Nestlé’ was named as one of the top plastic polluters in the Philippines by Greenpeace.
With this initiative, Greenpeace sets out to achieve its broader vision for a waste-free future. Starting with Japan,which is the world’s largest market for KiKat’s, Nestlé’ expects to reduce its plastic production by 380 tonnes per year.
The new, more eco-friendly packaging will eventually be applied to all remaining KitKat offerings in Japan by 2021, including the normal-sized and the individually wrapped KitKats.
The impact of product packaging on the environment is very complex due to various perspectives. It is a first step toward tackling the plastic waste issue and is by no means a final solution. For instance, while the paper outer is recyclable – whether or not the paper is actually recycled depends upon municipality infrastructure and collecting and sorting rules – there are no paper recycling standards and evaluation as yet in Japan. Therefore, Nestle cannot mention clearly that the outer is recyclable packaging.
Nestle Japan is actively exploring materials that can further reduce the burden on the environment in the future. While initiatives to achieve a sustainable future will begin with its leading KITKAT products, it is also exploring opportunities to expand the scope of the new packaging to other brands and products.