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Unilever Announces Recyclable Paper Laundry Detergent Bottle

by Rudy Sanchez on 07/14/2021 | 2 Minute Read

Sustainable options can be limited when it comes to packaging liquid goods like shampoo, body soap, and laundry detergent, making plastic the most practical choice (though you could also do away with the packaging entirely, just saying). Yes, it's inexpensive, lightweight, and applicable for many liquids, but it remains an environmental nightmare. Unlike paper, plastic is also watertight. Until recently, paper bottles were only feasible by coating the inside and making the new bottle unrecyclable, sentencing the empty packaging to the trash pile.

Unilever and technology consortium partner Pulpex have successfully developed a recyclable paper laundry detergent bottle which the firm announced will debut sometime in early 2022 in Brazil under the OMO brand. Unilever is also piloting similar bottles for hair care products.

Editorial photograph

Unlike other paper bottles, the material used to coat the interior of the molded bottles does not impact the recyclability of the bottles, Duplex claims. Beyond that, the coating material’s composition is undisclosed.

“Pulpex uses proprietary, food-grade coatings that are compatible with the product inside the bottle. All coatings are PET-, HDPE-, and BPA-free. BASF, the world’s leading supplier of innovative materials for the packaging industry, is assisting Pulpex in developing coatings across a wide range of applications for the Pulpex technology. One of two types of coating get used depending on whether the bottled product is oil-based or aqueous-based,” said Remy Rasenberg, creative and marketing director at Pilot Lite, a collaborating partner of Pulpex.

“To tackle plastic waste, we need to completely rethink how we design and package products,” Richard Slater, Unilever’s chief R&D officer, in the announcement. “This requires a drastic change that can only be achieved through industry-wide collaboration. Pulpex paper bottle technology is an exciting step in the right direction, and we are delighted to be working together to trial this innovation for our products.”

Other examples of paper bottles developed by Pulpex also include a spirit bottle for Diageo announced last year.