Sweet innovation as cocoa waste is transformed into chocolate wrappers

Bill Bruce17 Oct 2013

Chocolate wrapped in chocolate? UK paper, James Cropper manufacturer tastes recycling success by turning the husks of cocoa beans into paper.

An innovation that could save the skins of many of the 3.5 million tonnes of cocoa beans produced each year, by turning them into paper, has been pioneered by British paper manufacturer James Cropper, paving the way for millions of chocolate bars to be wrapped and sold in the stuff of their creation.

Approximately ten tonnes of cocoa husk waste accounts for every single tonne of dry cocoa bean produced, or 76% of the fruit itself, making the production of a versatile paper from the remnants of the chocolate production process a potentially significant breakthrough for the food and packaging industries. A bio-recycling solution that, unlike other cocoa recycling processes, doesn’t necessitate burning or gradual degrading of the fibres of the cocoa husk, the finished light brown paper utilises the cocoa as a natural colourant, avoiding the need for artificial dyes.

First asked by the world’s leading manufacturer of high-quality cocoa and chocolate products, Barry Callebaut, to consider how their environmental responsibility and waste recovery processes could be enhanced by reviewing their packaging, experts at the 168 year old, family-run mill began a series of trials that soon lead them to their breakthrough. Effectively a physical token of the manufacturer’s efforts to support sustainable cocoa farming, the paper is now in production and certified for use in the food supply chain.

Mark Cropper, chairman of James Cropper, said: “Being tasked to create a new paper product is always exciting for our product development team, who work closely with our clients to ensure they get the packaging solution they require. Creating paper from cocoa husks, and achieving food industry certification for its use in packaging edible products of all kinds, is a great achievement and is another example of James Cropper developing industry-leading solutions for even more sustainable methods of paper production.”

The finished product, predominantly made up of unbleached cellulose fibre from sustainable crops, features a 10% 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.

Phil Wild, CEO of James Cropper plc added: “The production of a brand new paper that repurposes the primary waste material of the cocoa and chocolate industry reflects how far we can push the capabilities of our state-of-the-art mill, our expertise and paper itself. The result is a beautifully simple product that is entirely appropriate for its intended use; perhaps providing a starting point for other industries to consider how their waste materials could be better reused rather than disposed of.”

Source: James Cropper