Although it may come as a not-so-sweet surprise to the many fans of Nutella, it turns out the same process that produces the chocolaty spread also generates an unwelcome byproduct: tons of hazelnut shells that are shipped to landfills every year.
Now, one food producer is launching a plan to convert the shells into valuable food packaging. The Italian firm Ferrero, the largest chocolate producer in the world, has teamed up with renewable packaging company Stora Enso and the German research institute PTS to find a way to convert excess shells into "EcoPaper" to wrap its chocolates.
"We are still experimenting [with] the ideal mixture of nutshell fibers in the pulp, but so far it works well for stiffness and bulk," Miguel Sánchez, mill manager at Stora Enso, told The Guardian newspaper. "The hazelnut fibers are used in the board's middle layer and have been tested for allergy aspects without any problems."
Ferrero will have no shortage of material for its experiments. The company says it manufactures 198,000 tons of Nutella spread each year, using 25 percent of the global supply of hazelnuts and making it the world's biggest buyer of that crop.