As more and more people see plastics as an environmental problem, companies are looking for ways to remove plastics from their products. Packaging is one area that is drawing attention. A variety of approaches are being considered.
The environmental tactics include:
- Use recycled material for packaging.
- Make the packaging more recyclable.
- Eliminate or reduce packaging.
- Encourage reuse.
- Create alternate uses for the packaging after the product is removed.
One interesting approach being tried in Japan is the use of origami paper as packaging for the KitKat Minis by Nestlé. The packaging will include instructions for origami. Nestlé anticipates over 380 metric tons of plastic waste will be saved by the change. The company had previously launched its snack bar “YES!” in recyclable paper packaging.
Video Spotlight: Nestle is swapping plastic wrappers on KitKats for origami paper
This post is based on the Verdict Food Service article, Nestlé Swaps From Plastic To Origami Paper On Japanese Kitkats, by Rosie Lintott, August 14, 2019; the BBC article, Plastic pollution: The plastic alternatives making a comeback, by Newsround, August 15, 2019; and the YouTube video, Nestle is swapping plastic wrappers on KitKats for origami paper, by Blue Job, August 15, 2019. Image source: Shutterstock / oatawa.
1. Do you have any concern about using origami paper for packaging food from a supply chain perspective?
Guidance: The biggest concern would relate to the ability of the new packaging to maintain the freshness of the product. If the shelf life of the product is reduced, the company will need to make changes in the supply chain to handle the reduced shelf life.
However, with 4 million sold per day in Japan, KitKat Minis’ inventory turnover might be high enough for this to not be a problem. Additional concerns would include how the packaging performs in the manufacturing process.
2. What design considerations should be considered with the change in materials?
Guidance: Obviously, we can start with the physical properties and how they impact processes, such as how origami works in the manufacturing process, or how well it dispenses from vending machines. We should look at how it impacts the quality—will it keep the Minis fresh? Do consumers like the feel of the material? Do customers believe it will keep the product fresh? Another consideration is how many different sets of instructions will be included for the origami? Will the label indicate what instructions are included, or will it be a surprise?
3. Provide examples of tactics that companies are using to reduce the environmental impact of packaging.
Guidance: The Newsround article mentions the use of reusable glass bottles for milk, and the return of the bar of soap. Several previous OM in the News Posts have examined similar tactics. For example, Amazon encourages people to reuse their carboard boxes by making toys out of them. P&G’s waterless cleaners reduce packaging and remove plastics from their packages. Loopstore eliminates single use packaging. Starbucks is looking for an environmentally friendly cup. A plant in Ashley, Indiana will convert plastic waste to fuel. And McDonald’s switched to paper straws, but did encounter some problems. There are many other possibilities beyond these examples.