Scooping out the plastic: how an ice cream brand turned to renewable packaging | Journey towards a plastic-free future

Scooping ice cream from tub

In addition to being recyclable or compostable, ice cream packaging constituted of Cupforma Natura is 23% lighter than its plastic predecessor, decreasing transport prices

Virtually a yr in the past, the client items large Unilever pledged to halve the quantity of plastic it makes use of by 2025. At the time, the group was getting by means of 700,000 tonnes of plastic every year throughout the a whole lot of family manufacturers that it owns, together with Dove, Consolation and Certain.

It goals to attain its goal by means of a mixture of reusable packs, concentrated refills, various supplies and likewise by fostering a extra round economic system for recycled plastic by gathering greater than it makes use of.


One instance of its change to various supplies is the pioneering paperboard packaging for its Carte d’Or brand of ice-cream. The packaging, which is produced by Seda Italy in Naples, is crafted from Cupforma Natura, a renewable materials developed by Stora Enso. The PEFC-certified renewable fibre has a biodegradable barrier coating on each side, thus preserving the ice-cream safely in freezing and moist circumstances. After use, the carton might be both recycled or composted. The lid is produced utilizing the similar, compostable paperboard from Stora Enso.

Amongst the advantages of this packaging is that the carton is 23% lighter than the earlier, plastic model, due to this fact chopping transport prices. Contemplating that 11m tubs of Carte d’Or are shipped yearly, the newest iteration allows Unilever to cut back its use of plastic by 520 tonnes a yr, in addition to save on gas.

Armando Mariano, R&D product and materials director at Seda Worldwide Packaging Group, says the objective was to make a completely different kind of packaging, decreasing weight and plastic content material, and enhance end-of-life choices. “Natural waste assortment works fairly nicely in Italy, so biodegradable and compostable packaging is sensible and shoppers like that choice,” he says.

Biodegradable choices are widespread in Italy thanks to its composting infrastructure, which incorporates fleets of distinct inexperienced compost vans. One other key issue for the new packaging was the print high quality of the materials, which permits the brand to be correctly showcased.

“New packaging improvements are essential for our goal to make all our packaging reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025,” says Giorgio Nicolai, advertising director of ice-cream in Italy for Unilever, the place the new tubs had been launched final yr.

overhead view of eating ice cream

Unilever is aiming to obtain 100% recyclability of plastics used for merchandise similar to ice-cream

Unilever’s publicly-listed targets embody 100% recyclability of all plastics; 25% PCR (put up client recyclate) inclusion in plastic packaging; gathering and processing extra plastic than the enterprise makes use of; and chopping virgin plastic use by 50%, in addition to utilizing 100,000 tonnes much less of plastic general.

In accordance to the Ellen MacArthur Basis’s New Plastics Economy report, solely 14% of the plastic packaging used worldwide reaches recycling crops, and simply 8% is recycled. Unilever’s preliminary set of public targets had been launched in 2010. In the decade since, the firm says it has diminished its waste influence per client by a third.

“The partnership with Stora Enso to ship recyclable ice-cream tubs made from paper for Carte d’Or is a nice instance of Unilever’s ‘Much less, Higher, No’ plastic framework,” says Marika Lindstrom, vp of packaging procurement at Unilever.

“Stora Enso has been Unilever’s paperboard accomplice for a very long time, so it was a pure selection for the new ice-cream packaging,” she says. “We all know our shoppers need extra sustainable, recyclable options, and paperboard is a nice materials to meet and exceed these expectations. The shopper response to the Carte d’Or packaging has been very optimistic.”

Singapore-based Lindstrom factors to different Unilever examples: “Seventh Technology [a line of cleaning products] has launched a zero-plastic vary, and PG Suggestions will take away the plastic movie on bins in 2021, having already launched totally biodegradable tea luggage.”

She additionally highlights a partnership in Chile with Algramo, a startup that makes use of an app-powered meting out system and merchandising machines mounted on three-wheeled electrical automobiles that journey round the metropolis offering household-product refills for patrons’ reusable plastic bottles. “That has thrived throughout lockdown thanks to its tricycle distribution system throughout Santiago,” she says.


Lindstrom highlights the significance of enterprise partnerships when it comes to recyclable and renewable packaging. “When like-minded industries and corporations come collectively and use recyclable packaging, it should create a important mass,” she says. “Extra quantity will translate into capability, due to this fact making recyclable packaging the new norm in the future.”

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