In what is being called a “world-first”, Nestlé will begin wrapping their Yes! snack bar range in a new kind of recyclable paper that can biodegrade in six months.

Researchers working at the company’s English confectionery R&D center in York have found a way to use a recyclable paper wrapper in a high-speed “flow wrap cold seal” packaging line, which – thus far – has been a process that has only been suitable for plastic films and laminates.

The Yes! range of fruit- and nut-based bars, which will become the first brand to convert to the new recyclable paper wrapper, will be rolled out this month.

Additionally, the Swiss company says that they have not patented the technology as a means of encouraging other companies to adopt the packaging method starting from April of next year, according to the Financial Times.

“We’ve turned our attention to the wrapper so that the packaging is sustainable and easy to recycle. It’s an important step as we work to make all of our packaging recyclable or reusable by 2025,” said Stefano Agostini, CEO for Nestlé in the UK and Ireland.

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Though Nestlé did not disclose when their other products would adopt the biodegradable packaging, the company has already made notable strides towards their sustainability goals. At the start of the year, Nestlé began to replace all of the plastic straws from its products with eco-friendly materials like paper; they started rolling out paper packaging for Nesquik; and they announced that Smarties candy would soon begin using plastic-free packaging.

Additionally, the company announced in April that they had managed to certify three-quarters of their supply chain as deforestation-free ahead of their deadline for being entirely deforestation-free before 2020.

Now with their latest packaging breakthrough for the Yes! brand, the snack bar wrappers will now carry the message “carefully wrapped in paper” in order to reflect the work that has been done in adapting production lines to handle the new packaging more gently during the manufacturing process.

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The new packaging is made of a coated paper that is widely recyclable with other paper. The paper itself comes from sustainable sources, certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) or The Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification.

The innovation has been a significant project for the company’s R&D centre in York and a small team has worked independently and creatively to focus on finding the breakthrough required over the course of the last ten months.

The challenge for experts was to find a way to use paper on high speed production lines that have been designed for more durable plastic or laminate packaging. The new wrapper then had to be tested extensively to make sure it would keep Yes! bars in perfect condition during production, transport and storage.

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“This launch is the result of a lot of hard work at speed with our R&D teams delivering a recyclable paper solution for our YES! bars in less than 10 months,” said Jas Scott de Martinville, Global Confectionery R&D lead for Nestlé. “It is an incredible achievement and one that we are all very proud of.”

Although the bars are not yet available in the United States, the new paper wrapped-bars are now being launched in more countries, including Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, and the United Kingdom. More countries in Europe and beyond will follow soon.

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