Unilever trials “first ever” wrapper-less ice cream multipack

24 June 2019


wrapper-less ice cream

Unilever ice cream brand Solero has launched a wrapper-less multipack which uses 35 percent less plastic compared to its original packs. The new box – which can be “widely recycled” in the UK – has built-in compartments, enabling the individual ice creams to be packaged without a plastic wrapper. The specially designed PE (polyethylene) coated cardboard design ensures the taste and quality of the ice creams are not compromised by the plastic deduction.

The wrapper-less ice-cream multipack for Solero’s Organic Peach range is being trialed exclusively with online grocery retailer Ocado. A limited number of products are available to test the new packaging and gather consumer feedback.

“The Solero ‘no wrapper’ multipack is made from PE coated cardboard. The packaging has been approved by the OPRL (The On-Pack Recycling Label) to carry the widely recycled logo. It is 95 percent carton box with a 5 percent thin layer of plastic PE coating on the inside. PE-lined products with this low percentage can be widely recycled in the UK,” Noel Clarke, Vice President of Refreshment at Unilever, tells PackagingInsights.

“We have also made sure that the pack is leak resistant to account for when ice creams are at risk from melting in the hot weather. Your ice creams won’t melt any faster without their jackets, but make sure to get them back to the freezer before they melt, as you would do with most ice cream,” he adds.

This trial is the latest innovation in brand owner Unilever’s #GetPlasticWise initiative which aims to rethink plastic in the UK. The plan sees Unilever working collaboratively with partners to seek out solutions plus support and educate consumers on how they can reduce plastic consumption.

“As we head towards summer, we’ve listened to our customers and are working hard to rethink plastic packaging for our ice cream ranges. If successful and the feedback from customers is positive, this innovative pack could reduce the amount of plastic we use in the future to package our ice creams,” explains Clarke.

Earlier this year, Unilever launched its #GetPlasticWise campaign, which is a holistic approach to rethinking plastic. This launch reflects the FMCG’s commitment to ensure that, globally, all of its plastic packaging is fully reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025, and to use more recycled plastic content in its packaging.

“To meet this ambition, we have an internal framework which shapes our thinking and future innovation, which is based on a combination of using ‘less plastic’ – using lighter, stronger and more environmentally-friendly materials, ‘better plastic’ – using more recyclable materials and recycled content and ‘no plastic – using alternative materials, new packaging formats and alternative models of consumption,” says Clarke.

Unilever is a founding member of 2018 The UK Plastics Pact, an initiative led by WRAP to transform the plastic packaging system in the UK. Unilever supported WRAP and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation in the development of ambitious 2025 targets including:

  • Eliminating problematic or unnecessary single-use plastic packaging
  • 100 percent of plastic packaging to be reusable, recyclable or compostable
  • 70 percent of plastic packaging effectively recycled or composted
  • 30 percent average recycled content across all plastic packaging.

Also as a part of its sustainability commitment, Unilever has joined the On-Pack Recycling Lapel (ORPL) scheme, which is a movement to provide simple and consistent recycling guidance across products sold in the UK.

Solero says that this pilot is the first step in its journey to creating a more sustainable long-term packaging. Solero Organic Peach, launched in January 2019, is certified organic, contains 60 calories per lolly, whilst also being suitable for vegan and vegetarian diets.

“We’re really impressed with the level of innovation and creativity that Unilever has shown in developing this new pack,” notes Helen Bird, Strategic Engagement Manager at WRAP. “It will be welcomed by shoppers who we know want to be able to recycle the packaging they bring home from supermarkets. We look forward to seeing the results of the trial.”

Initiatives to reduce plastic content in packaging is a growing trend which has implications across many applications. A notable example is Carlsberg’s Snap Pack: an innovation that replaces the traditional, bulky plastic rings that accompany multi-packs of beer with a pioneering solution that instead bonds beer cans together with recyclable glue.

Also, Coveris has created a fully-circular skinboard tray for UK supermarket Morrisons’ fresh meat products, achieving a 50 percent plastic reduction that supports both the retailer’s sustainability goals and the manufacturer’s UK Plastics Pact commitments. Similarly, Sealpac’s FlatSkin pack for fresh meat, seafood and cheese saves up to 75 percent plastic while also extending shelf-life.


Published by FoodIngredientsFirst on June 17, 2019