Ferrero is developing an eco-friendly food packaging material it calls EcoPaper. The material is made of shells from hazelnuts used in producing its popular Nutella spread. According to the Italian Trade Agency, the company is the biggest buyer of hazelnuts, using 25 percent of the world’s supply. It therefore is left with a significant amount of nut shell by-product to create the material.
Ferrero has teamed up with renewable packaging company Stora Enso, and PTS, a German research institute, to develop EcoPaper. The approximately $1.3 million project is 50 percent funded by the European Union.
The project is still in an experimental phase, but Stora Enso mill manager Miguel Sánchez said that, even at this stage, the hazelnut board appears to be identical to regular carton board. He predicted that the hazelnut material will eventually be used to package Ferrero chocolates.
“We are still experimenting on the ideal mixture of nutshell fibres in the pulp, but so far it works well for stiffness and bulk. The hazelnut fibres are used in the board’s middle layer and have been tested for allergy aspects without any problems.”