Ferrero, the world’s largest chocolate producer as well as the world’s biggest buyer of hazelnuts for its delicious Nutella spread, has devised a cool way to use all of those hazelnut shells laying around.
The waste shells could be composted, of course, but more practically, the Italian company is planning to use the shells’ natural wrapping to create packaging for its chocolates.
Ferrero has teamed up with renewable packaging company Stora Enso, and PTS, a German foundation that researches and consults on fiber-based product development, to develop so-called EcoPaper as part of a €1.2 million (£870 million) ($1.35 million) project, which is 50 percent funded by the European Union.
Miguel Sánchez, manager at the Stora Enso Barcelona mill, says that visually there is no way to tell a hazelnut board apart from regular carton board. He adds: “We are still experimenting on the ideal mixture of nutshell fibers in the pulp, but so far it works well for stiffness and bulk. The hazelnut fibers are used in the board’s middle layer and have been tested for allergy aspects without any problems.”
The project is now in a preindustrial testing phase that ends later this year.
“After that we can hopefully see hazelnut chocolate packed with board based on hazel nut shell fibers,” Sanchez says.
"This way 100% of the hazelnut is used and nothing needs to go to waste. In the future you will be able to buy chocolate with hazelnuts wrapped in hazelnut board. That is a good way of using resources. We are even making tests with cocoa skin as a raw material for fiber in pulp, but that is still in a very early stage."
As the the world’s biggest buyer of hazelnuts, Ferrero uses 25 percent of the world’s supply to make 180 million kilograms (397 million pounds) of its Nutella spread each year.
This particular shell game scores with shell packaging. Benissimo!