Quality Street axe famous brightly coloured plastic wrappers in bid to go green

Chocolate chiefs at Quality Street have caused a stir by axeing their famous brightly coloured wrappers in a bid to go green.

The confectionist behind the Christmas favourites have announced they will end 86 years of tradition by getting rid of the see-through packaging and foil.

Instead they will replace the wrappers with a form of waxed paper to make its packaging recyclable.

The decision is intended to stop two billion wrappers a year being thrown into landfill. Consumers will start to notice the change in the coming weeks.

Alex Hutchinson, a chocolate historian, who used to be the official archivist at Rowntree Mackintosh, said: “It’s a huge deal. And it’s a bit sad.

“Because when Harold Mackintosh originally launched Quality Street he specifically designed it to be an explosion of colour, different flavours, different shapes. The wrapping was absolutely key.”

The new wrappers will keep their distinctive colours, with the hazelnut in caramel purple paper, the coconut eclair in blue and the fudge in pink.

But the sparkle of the plastic wrappers has been replaced by a paper that is neither fully matt nor fully shiny.

The paper is coated with a vegetable-based wax, which protects the chocolates, on the inside.

Cheryl Allen, head of sustainability at Nestlé confectionery, says the company thought long and hard before making such a change: “Quality Street is a brand that people feel very strongly about.

“We know that opening the lid and seeing ‘the jewels’, as we call them, is really important.

“We think we’ve done a really good job with the redesign, and feel confident that people will respond positively.”

This is not the first attempt to make Quality Street wrappers more environmentally friendly.

In 2008 Nestlé started producing the plastic outer wrappers from compostable cellulose, but the company admits only a tiny number of consumers bothered to dispose of them with their potato peelings.

Every year about 1.7 billion Quality Street “jewels” are eaten in Britain, the equivalent of about 63 per household.