British-Dutch consumer goods giant Unilever has undertaken to reduce the environmental impact of its products by half by 2030, a goal that includes the packaging used to protect and market its brands.
To that end, the company is not only seeking to reduce the amount of ‘new’ plastic it uses, but also to design packaging solutions that are easily recyclable, where possible by working with mono materials.
These efforts are now gaining recognition: the company’s Cremissimo ice cream packaging has been granted a “Made for Recycling” seal of quality from Interseroh, a member of the ALBA Group, a leading global recycling and environmental services company and raw material provider.
In collaboration with the bifa environmental institute, Interseroh has developed a three-stage points system to assess the recycling capability of packaging. Under this system, which has been validated by the Fraunhofer Institute for Process Engineering and Packaging (IVV), the packaging is first examined to establish whether consumers are able to determine into which collection system the packaging should go for disposal.
Next, the sortability is assessed: are current sorting technologies able to sort the packaging into the right material fraction?
Lastly, the actual recyclability of the packaging evaluated. Labels, colours, the use of a multilayer, multimaterial design are all factors that make the recycling process more difficult.
All packaging scoring a total of 18-20 out of a 20 possible points is eligible for the “Made for Recycling” seal. Unilever’s Cremissimo packaging, which has no barrier layers, is made from polyolefins only and is reusable, earned a total of 19 points.
“Simple changes also have a positive impact on the recycling capability of packaging,” explains Markus Müller-Drexel, managing director of Interseroh Dienstleistungs GmbH. “Our ‘Made for Recycling’ service provides businesses with tangible opportunities for successfully reconciling the increased requirements in terms of product protection and closed-loop circulation.”
The service also fulfils the requirements of the minimum standards for measuring the recycling capability of packaging of the German Central Packaging Register (ZSVR), which have applied since 1 September 2019.