Quality Street’s multicoloured confectionery will now all be a bit more green – or that is the hope – as the foil and plastic wrappers are swapped for recyclable paper.
The change marks the first switch away from rustling, shiny plastic wrappers for the brand in 86 years since Harold Mackintosh launched the brand in 1936 – with the intention of keeping 2bn wrappers a year out of landfill.
The latest change comes after the brand’s owner, Nestlé, tried swapping the outer plastic layer for compostable cellulose in 2008 – but it found most were still tossed in the bin.
Pollution and debris caught at a weir on the Jubilee River, Taplow, Buckinghamshire.
Nine of the 11 Quality Street sweets will move to paper-based packaging, which most local authorities collect. The orange crunch and green triangle will remain in foil wrappers as, traditionally, they have not had a plastic layer.
The new paper wrappers are covered with a specially created vegetable-based coating designed to keep the sweets fresh without hindering the recycling process.
The change will take several months to complete, so this Christmas fans will find a mix of old and new wrappers in their Quality Street tubs and tins.
Nestlé, the owner of the popular Christmas treats, said it was also switching KitKat wrappers to 80% recycled plastic that could be recycled at supermarkets across the UK or put in household recycling in Ireland.
The revamp for KitKat comes 21 years after it swapped its traditional, fully recyclable, paper and foil wrap for plastic. Smarties, also owned by Nestlé, introduced recyclable paper packaging last year.
The company said it hoped the changes would eliminate 3bn pieces of packaging a year from its supply chain.
Helen Bird, at the government-backed recycling body Wrap, said consumers were most concerned about how easy it was to recycle plastic wrapping and that required good design, collection and infrastructure as well as demand for the recycled material.
She said: “Plastic wrappers are not yet collected by local authorities, but this is set to change in the coming years. In the meantime, leading supermarkets are providing 5,000 collection points for all types of plastic bags and wrappers.
“We welcome these new initiatives from Nestlé, founding members of the UK Plastics Pact, to improve the recyclability of Quality Street and using advanced recycling technology to include recycled plastic into its KitKat packaging – something we need to significantly ramp up in the UK, and across the world. We look forward to further rollout.”