Will candy consumers recycle their wrappers?

Will candy consumers recycle their wrappers?
Dec 01, 2022

One of the biggest candy manufacturers is slowly rolling out a new, paper-based wrapper material in Australia and New Zealand that could prove to be a more sustainable alternative to the plastic typically used.

Mars announced that it will be rolling out the paper-based wrapper for its Mars, Snickers and Milky Way bars in Australia in April of 2023, according to Packaging Gateway. In June it will roll out the new wrapper for Mars and Snickers bars in New Zealand, which will then get the new Milky Way wrapper the following year. The wrappers are said to be designed for easy curbside recycling and are expected to reduce the amount of garbage in landfills in New Zealand alone by 11 tons.

This is not the first move by Mars to try to reel in the amount of non-recyclable trash generated by its candy bars.

In October of this year, as Halloween in the U.S. came under fire for being a big generator of single-use plastic waste, Mars distributed 17,400 candy wrapper collection bags throughout the U.S., according to The Boston Globe. The bags could be filled with discarded candy wrappers and mailed off to a recycling facility in Illinois which turns the bags into plastic pellets, to be repurposed into waste bags for dogs.

Mars is not the only big CPG company that has recently tried to innovate more environmentally sustainable packaging.

In 2019 competitor Nestlé launched its YES! snack bar in a recyclable paper wrapper, which a press release hailed as the first candy bar to be packaged in paper using “high-flow wrap” technology. The bar was made available throughout continental Europe and the United Kingdom, but is not available in the U.S.

Earlier this year Keurig Dr. Pepper announced that it was working on an easily compostable and/or recyclable bottle for soda, milk and water that is made out of organic fibers instead of plastic.

And in 2016 the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) pioneered a process for creating edible CPG packaging that could be made out of the milk protein casein.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you see recyclable candy wrappers as an innovation that will catch on with American consumers? Where do you think the best answers will come from to address the use of single-use plastics?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
"This seems like a sweet deal overall. Less plastic is good even if adoption is limited."

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12 Comments on "Will candy consumers recycle their wrappers?"

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Jenn McMillen

Let’s be honest. If it’s not easy to recycle the wrappers, American consumers won’t do it.

David Spear

There is tremendous upside in packaging innovation and this is but one snappy example of companies using technology and chemistry to deliver new eco-friendly wrappers. Like any new innovation, it will take time for consumers to be educated on proper recycling, but it’s my guess that consumers will catch on quickly.

Katie Thomas

Are recyclable wrappers that put the onus on the consumer for the initiative to be a success really the best companies can do in terms of sustainability? Some of this energy could be shifted to things brands can control that don’t rely on consumers’ participation or behavior change.

I’d love to see the data on the number of those 17,400 bags that were actually sent in… 🙂

Lucille DeHart

This seems like a sweet deal overall. Less plastic is good even if adoption is limited. I do think the younger candy consumer will be very willing to abide by recycling habits. For adults, it will rely on accessible recycling containers outside of the home. The best answers to single-use plastics will probably surface from Scandinavia who leads in other carbon neutral and ESG areas.

Gene Detroyer

Companies could provide the most environmentally friendly packaging possible. Sadly, it is worth nothing unless the user complies and takes environmentally friendly action. The likelihood of that behavior becoming standard is very, very small.

Patricia Vekich Waldron

Absolutely consumers will recycle wrappers! Especially given that youngsters are the consumers of much of the product and they are most in tune with ecology.

Mark Self

Eleven tons in New Zealand alone is a pretty big number — how much would it save here? I believe if this innovation is messaged aggressively it will catch on, however I do not see it being enough to cause more people to switch to Snickers or Milky Way. Adoption will trend up in younger consumers, while “Boomers” will be excited to a smaller degree.

All in all a good thing.

Regarding eliminating single use plastics, that is a big problem that I would love to see solved but it will not happen for a while. Hopefully sooner than later!

John Karolefski

Bravo, Mars, for this move, which is good in theory. People have to deposit the new paper-based wrappers in special curbside recycling bins. And where exactly are these special bins? Everywhere? Snacks are consumed everywhere. Most of these candy bars are consumed by children. Will they be looking for special bins to throw away the wrappers?

David Naumann

John, that is a good point about how easy, or not, it will be for people to recycle candy bar wrappers. It would be great if they could find a way for the wrappers to be biodegradable instead of recyclable.

Rich Kizer

Of course. Straight into recycle bins in the home and in the thousands on the streets.

Al McClain

Baby steps. Good for Mars to keep trying. Perfect? No. Google articles on the amount of plastic in the rivers and oceans (or go for a walk in a park) and you’ll see how absolutely staggering the problem is. Doing nothing is not sustainable so I give kudos to any retailers or CPG companies who are at least trying.

Craig Sundstrom

I think the poll left out the most obvious choice: they won’t “respond” at all. Even if they knew it was recyclable — a big “if,” IMHO — so much candy is consumed at places where it would be impossible to recycle, or at least difficult, I can’t see this going anywhere. Maybe they should consider edible wrappers! 🙂

"This seems like a sweet deal overall. Less plastic is good even if adoption is limited."

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