Sweet innovation as cocoa waste is transformed into chocolate wrappers.

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 10 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.

The cocoa husk paper will be showcased to the paper and packaging industry for the first time at Luxepack Monaco, 23-25 October 2013. Peers in the packaging and food industries have been quick to congratulate both James Cropper and Barry Callebaut on their innovations, with a nomination in this year’s Luxepack in green Award and both a win and nomination in the 2013 Europe-wide Pro Carton ECMA Awards 2013.

“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,” comments chairman Mark Cropper. “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.

“The production of a 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,” adds CEO Phil Wild. “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.” Today James Cropper is renowned globally for its luxury packaging papers which accompany many of the world’s most exclusive brands, while the world’s leading artists, galleries and museums use its framing and archival boards alongside its range of conventional artists materials.  As well as paper products, James Cropper develops advanced materials based on carbon and other fibres which play a key part in new approaches and architectures in the automotive and aerospace sectors.