Companies across myriad industries are pledging to make their products—and packaging—more sustainable. One such company is the food and drink giant Nestlé, which announced in January that it had committed to exclusively issue 100% recyclable packaging for its candy by 2025. As part of that goal, Nestlé’s Japan confectionery branch recently released new packaging for its popular miniature KitKat chocolate bars, which will now be wrapped in paper instead of plastic.
For a massive food processing conglomerate like the Switzerland-based Nestlé, shifting even part of its packaging business to recyclable materials could actualize real change. For instance, Statista reports that the company’s beverages alone made over $21.7 billion U.S. dollars last year. (Nestlé manufactures a variety of drinks, both in powdered and liquid form, along with several other products like baby food and breakfast cereals.) The switch to an eco-friendly wrapper for miniature KitKat multipacks in Japan alone—which happens to be the biggest market for KitKats, of which about 4 million are sold every day—is expected to cut down on roughly 380 tons of plastic each year.
Candy bar packaging, which is traditionally made of plastic film, is known for its hyper-glossy exterior. This bright finish is partially used to entice the sweet-toothed, but also because plastic, on a large scale, requires less energy to produce than paper products. In an effort to attract KitKat lovers to buy this newly matte version, Nestlé Japan has designed the updated packaging to include instructions for how to fashion it, post-snack, into the iconic origami crane, a traditional Japanese messenger of thoughts and wishes. (The mini-bar bags also feature designs that encourage consumers to alchemize their trash into origami art.) Ideally, this will guarantee that the paper remains in use, longer.
The environmentally friendly reboot will debut later this month, with the most popular KitKat Mini flavors—including the original, matcha, and otona no amasa, or “sweetness for adults,” essentially a more bitter, dark chocolate taste—donning the paper crane designs first. Next September, Nestlé Japan will roll out paper outer bag packaging for normal-sized KitKat multipacks, and will release single-layer paper wrappers for individual KitKats in 2021.
Looks like one man’s trash is another man’s treasure after all.