Maltesers ditches black plastic liners from boxes

Image: Mars Wrigley UK

The removal was announced today (17 August) with changed boxes already on selected retailers’ shelves and set to be widely available across the UK by the end of the week.

Mars Wrigley UK estimates that the change will mitigate the use of 82 tonnes of plastic each year. Moreover, it will enable the 930 tonnes of cardboard used to make Maltesers boxes each year to be eligible for recycling at kerbside for UK homes.

PE is easy to recycle and is collected by more than 90% of local councils in the UK. However, this is when it is a mono-material. The old Malteser box design was multi-layer, with plastic attached to the cardboard, meaning it could not be recycled at kerbside by most UK councils. Now, it is mono-material cardboard.

Mars Wrigley UK’s general manager Adam Grant said the business “takes its responsibility for sustainable packaging seriously”.

Last year, the firm confirmed plans to redesign the packaging for some of its most popular sharing pouches of sweets, reducing the company’s annual plastic output by 51 tonnes. Affected packs included M&M’s, Galaxy Counters, Revels, Maltesers Buttons, Starburst and Skittles. On average, the new pouches contain 10% less plastic by weight than their predecessors. They went on sale in April.

Mars’ ‘Sustainable in a Generation’ sustainability strategy includes commitments to reduce virgin plastic use by 25% by 2025 and to ensure that all packaging is recyclable, reusable or compostable within the same timeframe.  

Mars Wrigley UK, specifically, is a signatory of WRAP’s UK Plastics Pact. Pact signatories make four main commitments for 2025: eliminating unnecessary single-use packaging through redesign; making all plastic packaging 100% reusable, recyclable or compostable; achieving recycling and composting rates of 70% or more for packaging, and including 30% recycled content across all packaging.

However, it’s not all good news for the business. Last week, Mars’ packaging was named by environmental charity Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) as one of the most commonly littered brands in the UK. SAS analysed some 27,000 items of packaging litter collected during beach cleans across the UK this May, finding that more than half (52%) are attributable to just parent 12 companies.

Sarah George

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