Minneapolis — General Mills, Inc.’s Nature Valley brand is debuting a plastic film wrapper on its Crunchy granola product that is designated as a Store Drop-Off recyclable by How2Recycle. The bars, on shelves this spring, bring the brand closer to achieving its commitment to 100% recyclable packaging by 2025. The company says it has purposefully not patented the wrapper and welcomes other food brands to apply the technology to their product portfolios.
Developed in collaboration with Nature Valley R&D scientists and packaging partners, the wrapper uses new-to-the-category, advanced film processing with unique polyethylene polymers, the company says. Once recycled, the materials can be used to in new products including synthetic lumber and decking equipment.
General Mills notes the packaging offers the barrier needed to preserve the Nature Valley product’s freshness and does not compromise shelf life. The goal is to implement the wrapper technology across the brand’s entire portfolio of snacks by 2025 and extend to other General Mills brands and products.
“This advancement led by Nature Valley demonstrates that big, innovative thinking can empower and enable consumers to take small steps, like recycling a wrapper through Store Drop-Off, to make a significant difference in the health of our planet,” says Mary Jane Melendez, chief sustainability and social impact officer, General Mills. “It’s up to brands like Nature Valley and others in the snack industry to make these changes and do our part to protect the environment for generations to come.”
The company says it will use the packaging to educate consumers on the Store Drop-Off recycling system, re-engage their interest in reducing landfilled material and stimulate recycling. According to the Hartman Group’s Sustainability 2019 report, 70 percent of the U.S. population want to decrease plastic waste but don’t know how, yet more than 90 percent of Americans are within 10 miles of a Store Drop-Off recycling location. That is a potential 295 million people who could participate in Store Drop-Off recycling.
“Our drive to be a force for good, and a force for nature, led Nature Valley to invest in this packaging technology,” says Brian Higgins, grain snacks business unit director at General Mills. “And as the creator and share leader of the bar category, we feel a responsibility to continue innovating and encouraging future solutions that could make recycling wrappers even easier.”
Nature Valley along with other General Mills brands are working with leading non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to develop infrastructure for plastic film recycling, such as The Recycling Partnership and the Wrap Recycling Action Program (W.R.A.P.). To help encourage Store Drop-Off recycling of Nature Valley wrappers, and other eligible plastics, the brand has developed a multi-channel consumer education plan to drive awareness of Store Drop-Off recycling and promote small consumer actions that can lead to big impact in the world.