European chocolate brand Ritter Sport goes green with new paper-based wrappers

AUSTRIA – Ritter Sport, a chocolate brand from the family-owned Alfred Ritter GmbH & Co. KG, is ditching its standard plastic wrappers for paper-based packaging in a first-time trial.

According to a statement from the company, the paper-based trial will be rolled out in the brand’s limited-edition Chocolate & Weed which is being re-introduced to the Austrian market and will be made available for as long as stocks last.

 “The primary objective is to test paper-based packaging under practical conditions in retail stores,” Petra Fix, global sustainability communications at Alfred Ritter said.

Fix noted that his company hoped to gain insights into how paper packaging behaves, for example, during automatic packaging, transport and finally on the shelf.

“We want to find out whether the material proves itself on the typical route from production to the end consumer,” added Fix.

Ritter Sport reportedly chose a limited-edition chocolate variety to “inspire chocolate fans in Austria” with both innovative packaging and its milk chocolate with roasted hemp seed filling variety.

The trial builds on previous Ritter Sport paper prototypes tested in Germany earlier this year that received an “exceedingly positive” customer feedback and demonstrated “a clear awareness of the issue of sustainable packaging,” according to the company’s global sustainability communications officer.

When it comes to sustainably packaging chocolates, the main challenge lies in finding a material that meets Ritter Sport’s high sustainability, protection and product safety standards.

“Chocolate naturally contains a relatively large amount of fat from the cocoa butter. Primary packaging must therefore contain a high fat content and protect the chocolate against external environmental influences,” Fix explains.

The new paper-based wraps in Austria however show signs of meeting these standards.

According to Fix, the new Austrian test papers use a grammage of 90 g/m2, which is 15 g/m2 stronger than the initial prototype.

The packaging also states it is “wrapped in paper” prominently on the front-of-pack, in tune with the increasing acknowledgment by FMCG brands that the environmental attributes of packaging as a key selling point for consumer-packaged goods.

The new paper-based packaging though in trial is thus a good selling point for Ritter Sport which is using it to distance itself from using fossil fuels, the main component in PP.

The company notes that plastic recycling is not as well organized as paper recycling adding that simple, functioning recycling infrastructures already exist for paper worldwide.

“Today’s tests with paper-based packaging is an example of our attempt to operate in harmony with humans and nature,” concludes Petra Fix.

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