Mondi and Unilever serve up aluminium-free paper-based packaging for Colman’s Meal Makers

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Unilever, together with Mondi, a global leader in packaging and paper, 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 aluminium, 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% and an ultra-thin functional plastic layer that seals the packaging, and provides 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.

Mondi and Unilever closely collaborated throughout the entire development process, including mastering 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 provided the flexibility to quickly prototype and test the unique packaging material before scaling up. This collaborative method goes to the heart of 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, as well as that of its end user and the environment.

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.

Fikerte Woldegiorgis, foods marketing director, Unilever UK&I says: “At Colman’s, we’re big and bold when it comes to our flavours, and we’re keen to make equally bold steps when it comes to our sustainability commitments. 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, Mondi, adds: “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 towards a more sustainable future.”