Beauty industry to save big with Unilever’s plastic packaging reduction

By Lucy Whitehouse

- Last updated on GMT

Beauty industry to save big with Unilever’s plastic packaging reduction

Related tags: Bottle, Blow molding

Unilever has developed a technology to reduce plastic in its personal care packaging by ‘at least’ 15%, in a move which will both further bolster its sustainable profile, and potentially save the industry big in packaging costs.

Working with two packaging suppliers, MuCell Extrusion and ALPLA, the multinational consumer goods manufacturer has created the ‘MuCell Technology for Extrusion Blow Moulding’ (EBM), which will be applied to its Dove Body Wash bottles in Europe, before being rolled out more broadly.

Eventually, Unilever will waive specific exclusivity rights, so that from January 2015, other manufacturers can start to use the technology across their brands and products, meaning the wider industry is set to profit across the board.

Technology for the industry

The technology works by injecting gas into the middle layer of the bottle wall, creating gas bubbles which reduce the packaging’s density and the amount of plastic required.

With up to 33 million Dove Body Wash bottles sold across Europe in 2013, the new technology stands to save up to 275 tonnes of plastic a year; whereas a full roll-out across every Unilever product and packaging format could save up to 27,000 tonnes of plastic for the consumer goods giant.

Explaining their intention to open the technology up to the wider industry, Unilever voiced again their commitment to sustainability.

There’s only so much that Unilever can achieve on our 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,” ​Paul Howells, vice president of R&D packaging at Unilever, has said.

Same for the consumer

The companies state that while there are big savings to be made by industry players, unlike in the compression of aerosols​, consumers will not perceive a difference in the product size.

“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​,” confirmed Mark Lindenfelzer, president of MuCell Extrusion LLC.  

“We’re delighted to be part of this development and believe that it marks a real shift for manufacturers who want to behave responsibly,” ​he stated.

The announcement of the packaging technology comes ahead of Unilever’s release of the company’s ‘Sustainable Living Report 2013’ at the end of this month, which will detail the progress the company has made towards its plan to halve its waste footprint by 2020.

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