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Mondi and Unilever Serve Up Aluminum-Free, Paper-Based Packaging for Colman’s Meal Makers

Unilever progresses toward goal to halve the amount of plastic used in its packaging.

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Mondi and Unilever Serve Up Aluminum-Free, Paper-Based Packaging for Colman’s Meal Makers

(PRESS RELEASE) SURREY, UK — Unilever and packaging manufacturer Mondi have developed a new high-barrier, paper-based packaging material for Unilever’s Colman’s dry Meal Maker and Sauces range by reducing plastic, increasing paper content and consequently ensuring recyclability in the existing UK paper waste stream.

By replacing the previous unrecyclable, multi-material laminate with recyclable paper packaging, Mondi supports Unilever in its sustainability targets. The aluminum, as well as all unnecessary plastic layers of the previous material, were eliminated.

This resulted in a new packaging solution with paper content of 85 percent and an ultra-thin, functional plastic layer that seals the packaging, while providing barrier protection for the food. Mondi and Unilever’s R&D teams identified this layer as the minimum acceptable protection needed to ensure a long shelf life while maintaining high quality and reducing food waste.

In their collaboration, Mondi and Unilever overcame the challenge of limited access to production facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Starting with a proof of concept, followed by extensive line trials at both Mondi and Unilever’s R&D pilot plants, the packaging concept was quickly prototyped and tested before being scaled up.

The project exemplifies Mondi’s EcoSolutions customer-centric approach of working closely with its customers to ensure that the best possible and most sustainable product is created while meeting the customer’s requirements.

Unilever focuses on the principle of a circular economy and the importance of creating value within it. Two of their key targets are to transform the entire packaging portfolio into technically recyclable, reusable or biodegradable solutions, as well as to halve the amount of plastic used by 2025, which this new packaging solution addresses.

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“At Colman’s, we’re big and bold when it comes to our flavors, and we’re keen to make equally bold steps when it comes to our sustainability commitments,” said Fikerte Woldegiorgis, foods marketing director, Unilever UK&I. “We are delighted to partner with Mondi to develop this recyclable paper packaging, becoming the first big brand within the category to do so. The new packaging, which uses a paper base, ensures that shoppers can enjoy the same great tasting product they know and love, and now with the added benefit of being able to recycle the packs.”

Torsten Murra, global head of key accounts, consumer flexibles for Mondi, added: “MAP2030, Mondi’s action plan for the next 10 years to achieve our ambitious 2030 sustainability commitments, focuses on circular-driven packaging and paper solutions, created by empowered people taking action on climate. By working closely with Unilever, we were able to co-create a packaging solution that will deliver on all counts and is recyclable, providing a valuable resource for the circular economy to drive real change toward a more sustainable future.”

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