Magnum joins Unilever’s circularity charge with recycled tub rollouts
13 Aug 2020 --- With the assistance of chemicals company SABIC, Unilever will introduce its Magnum ice cream pints range in new tubs and lids made with fully recyclable and recycled polypropylene plastic (rPP). This follows an initial pilot phase in Belgium, the Netherlands and Spain last year. This year, more than 7 million rPP Magnum tubs and lids will be introduced across other European countries. From 2021 onward, the new packs will be rolled out globally.
As of last May, Unilever set a broader company goal to halve its virgin plastic use by 2025. Reducing its total use of plastic by more than 100,000 tons demands a “fundamental rethink” in Unilever’s approach to packaging and products, a company spokesperson previously shared with PackagingInsights.
“Through this new approach, we hope to lead the food and refreshment industry toward a more [environmentally] sustainable future, paving the way to a circular economy. These days, consumers – rightly – expect all packaging to be sustainable. By keeping our plastic material in the loop, we are contributing to a healthier planet and preventing plastic pollution,” says Julien Barraux, Global Vice President for Magnum.
“With more in-home consumption due to COVID-19, the introduction of these tubs and their reduced impact on the environment becomes even more relevant as the world prepares for a new future,” he continues.
New technology for new needs
Unilever indicates that the rPP used in Magnum is not obtained by traditional mechanical recycling, as this is “not suitable” for food contact packaging. “We use a recycling process that transforms the plastic waste into resin with the same characteristics as virgin food-grade resin,” the company underscores.
“This new technology allows us to recycle low quality, mixed plastic waste that would otherwise most likely be destined for incineration or landfill. It is not currently possible to produce food-grade rPP with any other form of recycling system,” Unilever adds.
Unilever has already tinkered with circular solutions in the ice cream sector. In March, Stora Enso packaged Unilever Finland’s Ingman ice cream in its Performa Cream 1 L paperboard cartons. Replacing standard PE coating, Stora Enso’s plant-based PE Green barrier coating will help Unilever reduce its use of fossil-based materials and reduce waste.
Last August, Unilever relaunched its branded Carte d’Or ice cream in compostable paperboard packaging by Stora Enso. The container is made from certified renewable fiber, sporting a biodegradable barrier coating. After use, it can be either recycled or composted in industrial composting.
“Plastic is a valuable material. It is crucial for the safe and efficient distribution of products, and it has a lower carbon footprint than many alternative materials. [Therefore], it has its place. That place is inside the circular economy – where it is reused, recycled or composted and kept in a loop to stop it from ever finding its way into the environment,” Unilever concludes.
By Anni Schleicher
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