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20 New Sustainable Packaging Innovations

Packaging consultancy shares 20 new sustainable packages and technologies that reflect broader industry trends, including compostability/biodegradability, reusability, and recyclability, among others.

Sustainable Packaging: Dish detergent
Rema 1000 Maskinrens own-brand dishwash detergent bottle is now being made from recycled fishing nets from Danish discount retail chain Rema 1000.

Packaging innovation consultancy ThePackHub regularly highlights some of the most innovative examples of sustainable packaging. Here are 20 innovative sustainable packaging solutions that exemplify the latest trends, as featured by Paul Jenkins, managing director of ThePackHub, in recent webinars and briefing reports. The innovations, in no particular order, included:

Sustainable Packaging: Finish Powerball Quantum dishwasher podsIn Italy, a pouch for Finish Powerball Quantum dishwasher pods from Reckitt Benckiser uses a 100%-recyclable mono-material film.1.    Rema 1000 Maskinrens own-brand dishwash detergent bottle is now being made from recycled fishing nets from Danish discount retail chain Rema 1000, in cooperation with Plastix.

2.     Scientists in Singapore have developed a sustainable way to extract chitin from prawn shells by fermenting it with fruit waste.

3.     Gualapack has produced a 100%-recyclable monolayer pouch for German company Frucht Bar’s baby food pouches.

4.     Italian brand Alba Cheese has switched to pallet stretch wrap that uses a proprietary organic additive from Biogone Plastics that causes the film to biodegrade 20-times faster than conventional film in a landfill.

5.     In Italy, a pouch for Finish Powerball Quantum dishwasher pods from Reckitt Benckiser uses a 100%-recyclable mono-material film supplied by Mondi. 

LocoSocoThe Heart of England Co-operative Society has agreed to a new distribution agreement with LocoSoco, a social enterprise that offers a wide range of refillable household products, that will see 35 Co-op stores fitted out with LocoSoco Eco-Refill Stations.Sustainable Packaging: LocoSoco Eco-Refill Stations6.     John B. Sanfilippo & Son is using a clear, lightweight, 100% recyclable PET canister, the SmartCAN® from Ring Container Technologies, to replace a composite can for its nut products.

7.     Since April, European yogurt brands Schärdinger, Tirol Milch, and Stainzer have been using a new 95-mm, snap-on plastic yogurt lid from Greiner Packaging that is dishwasher-safe and can be reused.

8. German herbal liqueur manufacturer Jägermeister has announced that it is moving its outer packaging from solid board to corrugated. The move will reduce the weight of the packaging by an average of 38.5%. The amount of recycled material also increases to over 90%. Read more about the innovation.

9. Fast food giant McDonald’s is testing strawless lids in the U.S. The test is expected to reduce 400 metric tons of plastic waste per year and the wider opportunity is clearly significantly bigger. Read more about McDonald's strawless lids test.

10.  The Ecover refill station system in the U.K. allows consumers to purchase a reusable Ecover bottle—it can be reused up to 50 times—and refill it with laundry, household, and dishwash cleaners from stations at participating retailers across the country.

Sustainable Packaging: Gousto's Eco Chill BoxU.K. meal kit company Gousto is using the Eco Chill box, a plastic-free, recyclable cardboard insulator, to keep its foods fresh during delivery.11.  A new bag-in-box package for Dreft liquid laundry, the Eco-Box, sold via e-commerce from Procter & Gamble contains 60% less plastic than a traditional rigid container.

12.  Tchibo, a German coffee retailer known for its rotating range of non-coffee products, has changed the packaging for its clothing line to reduce the use of plastic. A prefabricated cardboard sleeve is folded around the textiles from below, and a cardboard insert in the form of a hanger serves as a stabilizer. While the suspension that holds the construction together is still made of recycled plastic, Tchibo says it will be replaced with a waste paper solution by the end of the year.

13.  A number of “cheap and accurate” food packaging sensors are now being developed that indicate the shelf life of food products in real time. One example: The Imperial College of London is working on a sensor that would be combined with near field communication (NFC) tags that can be read by mobile devices.

14.  Compostable and biodegradable netting made from beech tree pulp and supplied by Austrian packaging company VPZ is being used for citrus products.

Sustainable Packaging: Eurovetrocap refillable glass jarEurovetrocap has introduced Refill 50, a 50-mL refillable glass jar for cosmetics, with a container and lid that can both be made of post-industrial recycled PP and can be purchased separately.15.  To prevent cross-contamination between fresh produce, researchers at Texas A&M University have created a coating that can be applied to food-contact surfaces like conveyor belts, rollers, and collection buckets. The coating not only acts as a germicidal, but it is also extremely water-repellent.

16.  German vegetarian food range Hermann has reduced the plastic in its thermoform packaging by 80% by using Schur Flexibles’ recyclable VACUflex(re) EX-T as bottom film combined with FlexTop(re) transparent and recyclable top film.

17.  U.K. meal kit company Gousto is using the Eco Chill box, a plastic-free, recyclable cardboard insulator, to keep its foods fresh during delivery. According to the company, the Eco Chill packaging will also remove 82 tons of plastic from its boxes.

18. German multinational automotive parts manufacturer Continental has moved its Timing Belt Kits with Water Pump packaging to a smaller, more sustainable format. The new packaging is 70% smaller than the previous incarnation. Read more about the package redesign.

19. Canadian restaurant chain Tim Hortons has unveiled changes to its cutlery, lids and sandwich wraps that will be in stores starting in early 2023. Tim Hortons’ 4,000+ Canadian locations began the switch in January, replacing plastic cutlery and lids with wooden and fiber cutlery and fiber lids for its bowls and cups. Read more about the shift.

20.  Eurovetrocap has introduced Refill 50, a 50-mL refillable glass jar for cosmetics, with a container and lid that can both be made of post-industrial recycled polypropylene and can be purchased separately. The mono-material container is also 100% recyclable.

ThePackHub offers resources on sustainable packaging, including a compilation of more than 500 sustainable packaging innovations. Learn more here.

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