US – American multinational manufacturer and marketer of branded consumer foods General Mills has announced that its Nature Valley Crunchy granola bars will have fully recyclable plastic wrappers starting this spring.
The new wrappers, a first for the category, are a step toward the General Mills brand’s goal of having 100% recyclable packaging by 2025.
The wrappers are made with an advanced processing technology that uses unique polyethylene polymers and can be recycled by dropping them off at How2Recycle centers in grocery stores nationwide.
The plastic itself can be turned into synthetic lumber and decking equipment, according to General Mills.
A recyclable wrapper is however useless if it isn’t actually recycled. To ensure the packaging is recycled, General Mills has put adequate notice to consumers that they can recycle the wrappers.
Messaging on the box and on each individual wrapper explains that the packaging can be recycled at grocery store drop-offs.
“As the creator and share leader of the [granola] bar category, we feel a responsibility to continue innovating and encouraging future solutions that could make recycling wrappers even easier,” Brian Higgins, General Mills grain snacks business unit director said in a written statement.
Recyclable snack wrapper: a game changer for sustainability
Single-use plastics, like the kind commonly used to wrap snacks, are an increasing environmental problem, especially because most cannot be recycled.
In 2018, discarded packaging made up 82.2 million tons of waste — 28.1% of all waste that year, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
In that year, 14.5 million tons of plastic packaging was made, and 10 million tons ended up in landfills.
A recyclable snack wrapper could thus be a game changer for sustainability in the food packaging industry.
General Mills says it is not patenting the wrapper and “is welcoming other food brands to apply the technology to their product portfolios”.
If its product turns out to be truly effective, it could help General Mills and several other CPGs meet their environmental commitments.
Minimum disruption from normal
The wrappers themselves have a slightly different look and feel than the single-use ones they are replacing, but nothing that consumers are likely to notice.
These are not like the compostable packaging PepsiCo debuted for its SunChips snacks in 2010, which was changed after consumers complained it was too noisy.
According to General Mills, the new wrappers still provide the necessary barrier to preserve the product’s freshness and do not impact its shelf life.
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