Why did you change your chocolate bar wrapper? | Equal Exchange

Why did you change your chocolate bar wrapper?

You might have noticed that the inner wrapper for our chocolate bars has recently changed from a shiny biofilm (100g bars) back to a white plastic (80g bars).  The white plastic wrapper is recyclable if your local recycling program accepts No. 5 plastics, which has become more common in the US. Also the outer paper wrapper is Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified and also recyclable, just like it has been for years.
This switch is something we carefully considered since we know how hard it is to find sustainably produced products that deliver on all fronts. There are a lot of factors that go into making packaging decisions and there are trade-offs.  
In order to remain price competitive so that more people can afford to purchase our chocolate and therefore we can purchase more from our farmer partners, we felt that the cost savings on the plastic versus the biofilm made sense.  The biofilm is compostable in an industrial setting and under specific conditions, also suitable for home compost. Unfortunately, residential composting is not widely available across the United States at this time so many of these wrappers end up in landfills.  
The other option is a traditional plain foil wrapper often used in the chocolate industry. We chose the plastic wrapper because, overall, it was less damaging to the environment. Our wrapper is made from polypropylene and uses about a third of the energy it takes to make an aluminum foil wrapper, even when the foil is recycled. There are no easy answers – on the front end, foil has a negative impact in terms of mining and energy use, and on the back end, the plastic has a negative impact in its disposal.
 We are doing our best to balance multiple goals and sustainable production in other ways. Our chocolates are organic and fairly traded - even the sugar and vanilla are organic, Fair Trade, and sourced from small-scale farmer co-ops. Each of the co-ops we partner with is committed to sustainable farming practices, not only preserving the surrounding environment but also protecting their and their families’ health. This also contributes to a reduced environmental impact.