The Chocolate Selection Box has been around since the 1920s, and back then you could be costing you 10 shillings, which was the average weekly wage for a working class family.
Now the selection boxes are less luxurious and can be found in supermarkets with brightly colored plastic packaging for as little as £ 1, so we sent a reporter Laoise Gallagher to investigate what big brands are doing to make these Christmas treats more durable.
A short trip to Wilko on the main drag in Chatham and I was shocked at the variety on display.
Selection boxes have grown massively over the past two decades and now it’s not just chocolate wrapped in Christmas plastic – chewy candies, jewelry, cosmetics and candles have also been featured in shiny festive packaging.
After a viral Facebook post, a debate was sparked over the durability of these boxes, with many being more plastic packaging than actual products.
With the COP26 summit in Glasgow creating a global conversation on climate change, for many it is now important to make small changes in everyday life to be more sustainable.
To be fair, I picked up all of the top brand chocolate boxes at Wilko to compare and see if their packaging efforts are getting more eco-friendly.
Plastics activists explain why we need to cut down on single-use plastic packaging
Maltesers Selection Box – £ 1
The Maltesers box costs just £ 1, so the small amount of chocolate inside was somewhat predictable.
However, on the shelf it was comparable in size to more expensive competitors, with the solid plastic frame creating a very disappointing illusion.
The box includes miniature versions of the brand’s classics – Twix, Mars, Milky Way and of course Maltesers.
In total it weighs 73g but on the plate it seemed very disappointing.
This box is certainly not great for the amount of plastic wrapping compared to the small amount of chocolate left to savor.
A spokesperson for Mars assured that the brand is committed to becoming more environmentally friendly.
They said, “At Mars, we are committed to reducing plastic in our packaging.
“This year alone we announced the elimination of over 370 tonnes of plastics from products in our UK operations and we will continue to do more as we work to ensure that 100% of our packaging is reusable, recyclable. or compostable. “
Cadbury Selection Box – £ 1
The Cadbury box is also just £ 1, a family favorite and often found wrapped under the Christmas tree.
Again, it appeared to be quite a large size, but the plastic tray inside was responsible for this. It has a little more chocolate than the Maltesers box, but is only bordered by a chocolate button.
The box includes a Fredo, a Chomp, a Fudge, a Curly Wurly and a small bag of milk chocolate buttons.
For one of the UK’s biggest confectionery brands, the fact that this box is more plastic than chocolate is a big disappointment.
Reese’s Selection Box – £ 3
Reese’s selection box really stood out on the shelf, opting for a bright orange cardboard exterior and only a subtle Christmas nod with an eerie DJ Santa illustration.
The box contains a large clear plastic tray with four plastic wrapped chocolate packages.
However, inside each pack was a smaller tray to hold Reese’s chocolate peanut cups in place – unlike the larger tray, they were made of white cardboard.
In total, the box includes eight full-size chocolate cups, so I was content with the amount of product – the large plastic tray seems a bit futile in this packaging though.
Nestlé Selection Box – £ 3
Again, like Reese’s box, this Nestlé selection costs just £ 3.
The box is slightly larger and is really selling for the holiday season as “Christmas Selection”.
It includes life-size versions of their bestsellers – Yorkie, KitKat, KitKat Chunky, Aero, Aero Mint, and Fruit Pastilles (this was the only box we bought with a jelly candy included).
The inner tray is made of cardboard which is nice to see, the only plastic included is the wrapping of the individual chocolate bars.
Lindt Selection Box – £ 10
Then the most expensive box of all – the Lindt Lindor box which was the largest on the shelf and cost £ 10.
There were two varieties of this box at Wilko but I went with the classic all milk chocolate box – both look alike in terms of the cardboard exterior.
This box is definitely worth the money in terms of the product, with two large Lindt chocolate bars, two truffle bars and a great selection of original luxury chocolate truffles.
The tray inside is made of cardboard and many packaging is made of paper or aluminum. However, both the truffle bars and the spherical truffles are individually wrapped in plastic which perhaps could have been modified or reduced to make this box a winner.
Galaxy Selection Box – £ 3
The best box that Wilko offered in terms of reducing plastic was the Galaxy Christmas collector’s box.
Inside, you receive four full-size chocolate bars and two Galaxy Ripple sticks, all for just £ 3.
The outer box is made of cardboard, but what sets it apart is the complete removal of the inner tray – it simply has a perforated edge to open the box.
The only plastics used are the individual chocolate wrappers, but it must be said that there is very little wrapping in this box compared to others.
Despite some brands’ efforts to cut down on plastic packaging, this remains a major problem, with consumers footing the bill for more environmentally friendly packaging.
John McGall created the viral Facebook post on his “I’m Reusable” business page and it has since reached nearly 1.4 million people.
He said: “The selection box highlights how much plastic we have on an item which may be less than £ 1. We can’t keep using plastic, we have to look at different ways of packaging the items. .
“The KitKat, for example, is available in paper and foil, so why aren’t all other chocolate bars in foil and foil like they used to be?
“We have to get back to basics because now everything is only plastic – companies are the root of this problem.”
Liz O’Hanlon runs a plastic-free filling center in Rainham, she believes that while some companies are trying to move away from plastic, it might just be a way to tap into another market for a profit.
She said: “We have to be very careful as consumers to check the supply chain and make sure that the changes made by these companies are genuine.
“So, for example, if some of the big organizations started offering refills, which I think would be great – is it really possible for them to do that with an ethical and genuine supply chain?
“Do they actually transport their products to supermarkets in shrink-wrapped plastic, in disposable plastic containers that they just emptied to make us feel better as consumers?
“So I think we need companies to do what they need to do for the right reasons and not just because they think filling things out or creating your own selection box is another way to sell more products. . “
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