Unilever is launching its first paper-based laundry bottle, developed as part of its participation in the Pulpex consortium.
Pulpux, a collaborative consortium that also contains PepsiCo, GSK Consumer Healthcare and Diageo, is working with brands to help develop more sustainable packaging on a scalable level. Diageo unveiled a paper-based bottle last year for its Johnnie Walker brand, and Unilever will leverage the same technology for its OMO, Persil, Skip and Breeze laundry brands, to be sold in Brazil in early 2022.
The bottles, which feature a proprietary interior coating that repels water, use sustainably sourced pulp and are designed to be recycled in the paper waste stream. They’re formed by pressurizing pulp in molds and cured in microwave ovens, with the interiors then sprayed with the coating material.
Unilever intends to bring the bottle in Europe and other regions “soon after,” though a timetable wasn’t disclosed. The No. 6 consumer goods company is also piloting the tech for hair care bottles.
Richard Slater, Unilever chief R&D officer, called the technology an exciting step in the right direction and said it will play an important role in the company’s goal to halve use of virgin plastic materials by 2025.
“To tackle plastic waste, we need to completely rethink how we design and package products,” he noted. “This requires a drastic change that can only be achieved through industry-wide collaboration.”
While Unilever didn’t share pricing, a spokesperson told CGT that pricing for Pulpex bottles will be competitive once the bottles are available at scale, with businesses able to integrate production into their existing brand-filling infrastructure.
In the vein of paying innovation forward, Unilever not only announced last month that it’s converting its entire global toothpaste portfolio to recyclable tubes by 2025, but it will also make the packaging innovation available to other companies.