Chocolate and ecodesign: a herculean task
At the heart of the Saguenay, in Dolbeau-Mistassini, the production of popular little Easter chocolates has been ongoing for many decades now. Rather than rest on their laurels following their success, today the monks and employees at La Chocolaterie des Pères Trappistes stand out in packaging ecodesign, a process that considers all phases in a packaging’s life cycle to reduce its ecological footprint. It’s a surprising tale of innovation stemming from a long tradition of social conscience.
A tradition rooted in ecoresponsibility
The chocolate factory has been part of the region’s most emblematic companies for more than 80 years. Inspired by the Gospel values, its business model is based on sustainable development and local sourcing to achieve as many co-benefits as possible for the local community.
The company’s philosophy has for many years extended to all its fields of activity and continues to do so. This includes, for example, using recycled and FSC-certified cardboard, optimizing the handling of products to lower GHG emissions, reducing the thickness of materials used in packaging and even reusing said packaging whenever possible.
“We’re working to continuously improve our products and methods. While some adjustments can be quick to make, we usually spend many months, sometimes up to a year, researching and developing more efficient packaging before releasing it into the market. Some projects are currently being reviewed and could be launched in 2022.”
- Dominique Genest, general co-manager and co-owner of La Chocolaterie des Pères Trappistes
An "outside the box" approach
In 2019, the Trappist monks decided to further think "outside the box" by completely overhauling their cardboard box packaging.
This optimization effort helped reduce the total packaging mass by 38%.
Measures taken to achieve this astounding result included completely removing the interior tray from the box and using made-to-measure shipping boxes to ensure minimal empty spaces and increase the number of packaged products on one same pallet.
Before switching to a completely new method of packaging, the Trappist monks carried out several tests to make sure the features in their ecoresponsible boxes also fell in line with the market demands.
Thanks to the many improvements found in this new chocolate box, they quickly realised that their ecodesign process helped decrease environmental impacts and respected the marketing constraints that come from manufacturing the Chocolaterie’s different products.
A variety of benefits
Beyond its environmental benefits, ecodesign is a process involving continuous improvement, which adds value to a company in its entirety.
For instance, by advertising their procedures, the Trappist monks have improved their customer, supplier and employee relationships. Efforts in communication resulted in team mobilization towards a sustainable development project at the chocolate factory. A real two-for-one deal, both within and outside the company!
The cherry on top to this approach: the unit costs for packaging have fallen! Ecodesign can be just as wonderful as chocolate rosettes for the company’s business.
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