In response to customer demand for more circular and sustainable packaging solutions, Greiner Packaging has for some time been testing various recycled materials to assess their suitability for the production of cardboard-plastic packaging combinations.
The company has now developed a new tub and lid packaging for Unilever’s Knorr brand of bouillon powder, which is based on 100% certified circular PP from postconsumer plastic material. The new packaging was created within the scope of a pilot project with global petrochemical leader Sabic and brand owner Unilever, from PP from Sabic’s Trucircle portfolio, produced through the feedstock recycling of used and mixed plastic otherwise destined for incineration or landfill. These waste plastics are broken down into the original molecular building blocks, by heating these at a high temperature in an oxygen-free environment, producing pyrolysis oil. The pyrolysis oil then enters Sabic’s production chain, just like fossil-based feedstock, and used to produce high-quality virgin-like polymers that are suitable even for food packaging. The PP polymer derived from this process is verified and authenticated under the International Sustainability and Carbon Certification (ISCC PLUS) scheme, which uses a mass balance approach.
The goal is to produce about 1 million Knorr bouillon powder packages for Unilever from this 100% circular polymer. The new packaging solution is already on the market.
The test project serves to demonstrate what is possible with recycled materials in the food segment, explained Jens Krause, Sales Director at the Swiss Greiner Packaging site in Diepoldsau. “Here at Greiner Packaging, we are not only focusing on certified recycled PP – we are also working on our first projects and tests with mechanically recycled PS.”
In terms of quality, functionality and performance, the packaging is exactly the same as when produced from virgin material. It is supplied to Unilever as separate plastic tubs and folded cardboard sleeves. The sleeves are unfolded by a machine and slipped over the tubs directly before filling at the company.
The packaging solution is ideal for powdered foods, cereals, pet food as well as various non-food applications. Once empty, the consumer can easily remove the cardboard sleeve and dispose of the two packaging components separately. Alternatively, the resealable and dishwasher-safe tubs can also be used to store foods once the original product has been consumed – either at home or for day-to-day use in the food service industry.