Japanese KitKats Replaced Plastic Packaging with Origami Paper

You can now turn a wrapper into a crane.

Dec 25, 2019

Who doesn't love KitKats? The chocolate covered treat is a hit world over especially in Japan where it has become a national obsession with 4 million sold every day. KitKat comes in multiple flavors and sizes. Now, Japanese children can have their candy and make an origami – an art form of  paper folding – crane out of its wrapper too.

That's all due to Nestlé's, the large Swiss company that makes the chocolate treats,  commitment to sustainability. In 2018, the company pledged to make all of its packaging recyclable or reusable by 2025. The origami paper wrapper that becomes a crane – the Japanese symbol of good fortune –shows that the company is thinking outside of the box.

"Plastic waste is one of the biggest sustainability issues the world is facing today, Nestlé CEO Mark Schneider said in a company press release. "Tackling it requires a collective approach. We are committed to finding improved solutions to reduce, reuse and recycle. Our ambition is to achieve 100 percent recyclable or reusable packaging by 2025."

Candy bar wrapping is traditionally made of a plastic film combination that has a  hyper glossy outside according to Fast Company. It is notoriously hard to recycle. But it is also very cheap to produce so that is why candy makers use it.

Nestle's switch to the eco-friendly paper wrappers on just the miniature KitKat line (the first one to make the change) will save around 380 tons of plastic every year according to It's Nice That. But the packaging will not have the glitz of the plastic foil wrappers. That's why the company has designed the product packaging to include directions on how to fold it into a lucky crane.

The paper wrapped candy became available in the late fall 2019 in the most popular KitKat flavors in Japan – original, matcha, and otona noamasa or sweetness for adults – first according to Fast Company. In September 2020, Nestlé will add paper outer bag packaging for the regular sized candy and single-layer wrappers for the individual KitKats will be released in 2021.

This is not the first of Nestle's candy lines to go green. The Yes! snack bar line was released in February 2019 in a new recyclable paper wrapper that can biodegrade in six-months. The initial release was in 13 countries with more to follow.

All of these are trials for Nestlé to see what works in its transition to recyclable or reusable wrappers. While many of the foods and beverages Nestlé makes will be relatively easy to switch, candy bar wrappers are still a challenge.

If the company achieves its goal, and the lucky Cranes bring will help, it will go a long way to encourage other companies to follow suite.

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BONNIE RIVA RAS, EDITOR & WRITER
Bonnie Riva Ras has dedicated her life to promoting social justice. She loves to write about empowering women, helping children, educational innovations, and advocating for the environment & sustainability.