Western Cape toffee connoisseurs, Darling Sweet, have decided to switch to environmentally-friendly packaging. Traditionally, their toffees and sweets have been wrapped in non-recyclable plastic, but the sweet manufacturer will be phasing this out in favour of more sustainable materials.
Darling Sweet’s new wrappers will be made from a biodegradable film called biophane (or PLA). This material is compostable and will decompose within three to six months. It is made from renewable sources such as corn starch, cassava roots or sugarcane.
Packaging is important for sweets
The confectionary uses three other materials for packaging its sweet treats; Bi-oriented polypropylene (BOPP) plastic for the bags that contain the individually-wrapped toffees, cardboard for the boxes and glass jars for the toffee spreads.
The toffees need to wrapped tightly to keep air and moisture from spoiling them. The Darling Sweet toffees have a shelf life of 12 months but will expire within a couple of weeks if exposed to moisture and air.
New biodegradable packaging is worth the expense
Darling Sweet is acutely aware of the damage that non-recyclable toffee wrappers can do to the environment and its wildlife. The best alternative is the imported biophane which will reduce the post-consumer impact of the toffees on the environment.
Co-founder Hentie van der Merwe says that he and his business partner, Frits van Reyneveld, are aware of the carbon footprint associated with importing the new biodegradable packaging, but the alternative twist-grade cellophane is not recyclable or biodegradable.
The imported packaging is more expensive but Darling Sweet have made the decision to reduce their profit margins for the benefit of the environment. Darling Sweet’s consumers are supportive of the decision and are more likely to buy goods that are packaged in environmentally-friendly materials.
The biodegradable wrapping is seen as a selling point for the confectioners. Not many food producers in South Africa are currently using biodegradable packing for their products. Darling Sweet was launched in September 2013 and still operates from the small town of Darling in the Western Cape.
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