FMCG Brands Draw Parallels Between Plastic and Cigarettes as Mars Tests Paper Packaging

May 31, 2023 : The comparison between single-use plastics and cigarettes may not be far-fetched, according to Wai-Chan Chan, the managing director of the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF). Chan believes that a significant shift in consumer behavior is already underway, positioning single-use plastics as the cigarettes of the new generation.

This perspective is increasingly shared by major fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) brands worldwide. A recent example is Mars bars, a beloved candy brand available globally outside the United States and produced by the same company that makes Snickers. In a promising move, Mars has introduced new recyclable paper wrappers for its candy bars, replacing plastic packaging. This initiative is part of a pilot program aimed at exploring more environmentally friendly materials for Mars Food’s confectionery products. The company has rolled out the new packaging in 500 Tesco supermarkets across the United Kingdom this week, seeking feedback on its performance in real-life scenarios to inform future packaging innovations.

Mars Inc. also proudly announced that this change would result in making 200 million bars per year carbon neutral in the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Canada. Nestle, a major European candy rival, had already made a similar shift earlier. In January 2021, Nestle transitioned to paper packaging for its Smarties candies and followed suit with its popular Quality Street selection box in December 2022. Nine out of eleven candy miniatures in the Quality Street range have switched to paper-based packaging, while the remaining two have been retained in recyclable foil wrappers.

To address the challenge of finding paper packaging with sufficient barrier properties to protect the chocolate, Mars Inc. admitted that their test program required careful consideration. Nevertheless, given the lack of recyclability of their current plastic wrappers, as is the case with many similar items like potato chip packets and various candy wrappers, the transition to paper represents a significant environmental step forward.

As major FMCG brands actively explore alternatives to single-use plastics and embrace more sustainable packaging solutions, it becomes increasingly evident that the global fight against plastic waste is gaining momentum. With regulation supporting the shift towards plastic alternatives, these industry leaders are paving the way for a future where single-use plastics may indeed become relics of the past.