Whitakers first to trial sustainable paper packaging

Screen, Sappi and Mercian Labels collaborate to introduce recyclable barrier paper packaging for UK chocolate brand.

Screen has collaborated with Sappi and Mercian Labels, digital label printing converter in the UK, to introduce a recyclable barrier paper packaging for the renowned UK specialty chocolate manufacturer, Whitakers.

The flexible packaging industry is collectively seeking to improve its sustainability profile, influenced by both consumer expectations and European regulations. Notably, there is a growing interest in single-layer recyclable paper with barrier coatings, especially in the case of kraft/uncoated paper, thanks to its natural appearance and eco-friendly attributes. Recent consumer market studies underline the growing environmental consciousness, with 70 percent of European consumers actively seeking alternatives to plastic packaging. In the UK in particular, a McKinsey survey also reveals that 63 percent of customers perceive paper packaging as a more sustainable and eco-friendly option. This shift in consumer mindset has compelled brand owners to embrace paper packaging, recognizing that it aligns with their corporate sustainability goals. 

Whitakers is trailing an innovative, environmentally friendly, and fully recyclable paper packaging to satisfy the growing consumer demand for sustainable packaging. The company is piloting a survey among its diverse customer base to gauge reactions to this sustainability initiative while ensuring that the chocolates maintain the same shelf life and product freshness. Paper packaging aligns with Whitakers' brand ethical and sustainability values, reflecting its commitment to responsible business practices.

Juan Cano, business development director at Screen, stated: ‘Our partnership with Sappi and Mercian Labels represents a significant leap towards sustainable packaging. Screen’s inkjet digital printing press Truepress PAC520P using water-based food compliant inks, stands out for its lower environmental impact, reduced waste, and quick job turnaround times. This agility enables to rapidly ramp up volumes in the early stages of market development, offering a compelling solution for converters and brand owners alike.’

Sibylle Hajostek, market manager paper & packaging solutions at Sappi added: ‘Sappi has been a pioneer in manufacturing flexible packaging papers and recognizes the vast potential in the market for sustainable and recyclable packaging material. Selecting the right paper for the right product application is crucial and our expertise in barrier coating allows us to provide the right barrier properties for product protection. The UK market, in particular, has shown a significant demand for more sustainable packaging solutions, and we are excited to contribute to meeting these demands.’

Dr Adrian Steele, managing director of Mercian Labels, a label converter with extensive experience in digital printing, sees a significant potential in diversifying into paper flexible packaging. He points out: ‘The move into paper flexible packaging is a natural evolution for us. Digital printing with eco-friendly inks brings flexibility to packaging design by abolishing MOQs and significantly reducing lead times. It allows for customization, reduced waste from obsolescence, and, most importantly, aligns with Whitakers' commitment to sustainability. We have long seen the versatility and environmental benefits of digital printing in labels, so paper based flexible packaging an exciting market for us to explore.’