James Cropper has developed a recycling process that the UK paper manufacturer says could save the skins of many of the 3.5 million metric tons of cocoa beans produced each year by turning the waste product into paper.
The sustainable paper is now in production and certified for use in the food supply chain, paving the way for millions of chocolate bars to be wrapped and sold in the stuff of their creation, the company says.
About 10 metric tons of cocoa husk waste accounts for every single metric ton of dry cocoa bean produced, or 76 percent of the fruit itself. This makes the production of paper from the remnants of the chocolate production a potentially significant breakthrough for the food and packaging industries, James Cropper says. And unlike other cocoa recycling processes, this one doesn’t necessitate burning or gradual degrading of the fibers of the cocoa husk; the finished light brown paper utilizes the cocoa as a natural colorant, avoiding the need for artificial dyes.
The finished product, predominantly made up of unbleached cellulose fiber from sustainable crops, features a 10 percent cocoa husk content, with the cocoa waste materials being delivered to the mill in pulpable bags, meaning they can be incorporated into the paper-making process without the need for any additional processing, James Cropper says.
The idea for the recycled chocolate packing came from cocoa and chocolate products manufacturer Barry Callebaut, which asked the specialty paper company to review its packaging in an effort to improve its waste recovery processes and reduce its environmental footprint.
Earlier this year, the paper manufacturer opened what it says is the world’s first facility to recycle disposable coffee cups and reuse the pulp to make paper. Until now, the plastic content of cups has made them unsuitable for use in papermaking, James Cropper says. In the UK alone, the company estimates about 2.5 billion paper cups go to landfill.