Mars Wrigley strikes deal with Danimer Scientific for eco-friendly Skittles packaging

US-headquartered Mars Wrigley has forged a two-year sustainability deal with biodegradable materials business Danimer Scientific, in a joint venture developing home compostable packaging, writes Neill Barston.

As the confectionery giant explained, it will deliver its venture through its global product portfolio of sweets and snacks, with Skittles customers in the US being the first to benefit from its latest environmental initiative.

While development work is expected to be focused on its North American market, it aims to reach additional territories with underdeveloped recycling infrastructures where littering and leakage into nature are especially problematic, with the first off-the-shelf products anticipated for the end of 2021 and into 2022.

Mars Wrigley’s explained that its broader comprehensive strategy aims to transform its packaging portfolio to support a circular economy and to drive progress against its goal of 100 percent reusable, recyclable or compostable packaging by 2025.

The latest initiative’s emergence follows a number of key schemes from the group addressing core sustainability goals, including its plans of action on tackling climate change, under its ‘pledge for the planet‘ campaign.

According to Mars, Danimer Scientific’s signature packaging, Nodax polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) – is produced through natural fermentation processes using plant oils such as soy and canola and biodegrades in both soil and marine environments. Mars will continue to evaluate opportunities to scale this novel, innovative and sustainable packaging technology across its portfolio of brands and categories.

Danimer Scientific and Mars Wrigley plan to introduce Nodax PHA into flexible and rigid packaging that reliably breaks down in both industrial composting facilities and backyard compost units, offering an enhanced value proposition for environmentally conscious consumers and retailers. Sourced from the seeds of plants such as canola and soy, Nodax PHA can serve as an alternative to traditional petrochemical plastic and has been certified as biodegradable in soil and marine environments. In addition to better end-of-life options, Nodax PHA is renewably sourced, making it a truly circular material that helps eliminate waste.

Significantly, the company’s Danimer’s latest system has six TUV AUSTRIA certifications of industrial and home compostability, is biodegradable in soil, fresh water and marine environments and is 100% biobased. All of the firm’s biopolymers, including Nodax PHA, are FDA approved for food contact.

For Mars Wrigley, collaborating with Danimer Scientific represents a step change for its packaging sustainability strategy and brings the business closer to its vision for a circular economy where no packaging becomes waste. As part of Mars, Incorporated’s $1B Sustainable in a Generation Plan to help create a healthier planet, Mars Wrigley is testing a range of material solutions in markets around the world, such as mono material and paper-based alternatives, to make incremental progress toward its goals.

The aim of this collaboration is new, biodegradable packaging for various Mars Wrigley brands, starting with smaller and single packs that are more likely to be littered and typically less likely to be recycled. Mars Wrigley is leaning into this problem by creating new-to-world packs for a wide range of formats that can significantly support a sustainable planet.

“The impact of plastic on nature is one of the major sustainability challenges of our generation. There are no simple solutions and transformational innovation is necessary, we have to think and act differently,” said Alastair Child, Mars Wrigley VP of Global Sustainability.

“Collaborating with Danimer to advance this breakthrough technology represents a major step to creating positive societal impact and better environmental outcomes across the full lifecycle of small, flexible packaging.”

“Expectations for sustainable packaging vary from market to market, making it essential for new materials to be adaptable in meeting different standards without sacrificing quality,” said Stephen Croskrey, CEO at Danimer Scientific. “PHA provides a versatile platform for manufacturing material that is renewably sourced and leaves a minimal impact on the environment upon disposal. We look forward to working with Mars Wrigley in fighting the global crisis of plastic waste.”


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