Unilever launches reduced plastic packaging

Consumer goods company Unilever has launched new packaging technology that can reduce plastic content by 15 per cent.

Developed in collaboration with two of Unilever’s global packaging suppliers, ALPLA and MuCell Extrusion, the MuCell® Technology for Extrusion Blow Moulding (EBM) utilises gas-injection to create gas bubbles in the middle layer of a plastic bottle wall, thus reducing the density of the bottle and the amount of plastic required.

Unilever has announced that the MuCell® Technology will first feature in its Dove Body Wash bottles sold across Europe, before rolling the technology out.

It is thought that the new packaging will reduce plastic content in Dove bottles by ‘a minimum of 15 per cent’ (whilst remaining 100 per cent recyclable), saving up to 275 tonnes of plastic a year.

Further, once rolled out to all Unilever product and packaging formats, it is estimated that the technology could save 27,000 tonnes of plastic from being used. It is hoped that MuCell® Technology will help Unilever achieve its Sustainable Living Plan target of halving its total footprint from packaging waste to landfill by 2020.

Paul Howells, Vice President of R&D Packaging at Unilever said: “We’re always on the search for new technologies that can help us achieve our ambition to build a more sustainable business and halve our environmental footprint, and working with our two partners, we’ve created a unique technology that will transform our portfolio.”

Unilever has also said that it will ‘waive specific exclusivity rights by January 2015’, so that other manufacturers can start to use the technology across their brands and products.

Howells explained: “[T]here’s only so much that Unilever can achieve on [its] own; and by opening up access to other manufacturers we will really start to see an impact. We very much hope that our peers in the industry will take advantage of this technology too and apply it to their products.”

Mark Lindenfelzer, President of MuCell Extrusion LLC, added: “MuCell® Technology is an exciting innovation. Whilst consumers won’t see any difference in the bottles, the impact on the environment will be very real. We’re delighted to be part of this development and believe that it marks a real shift for manufacturers who want to behave responsibly.”

Find out more about the MuCell® Technology or Unilever’s Sustainable Living Plan.