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Waste-free world challenges

Our challenges for this topic are listed below. Please read all the information – if you feel your technical solution could help us meet one of our challenges, we’d love to hear from you.

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Sustainable packaging (dry foods)

Background

Plastic has its place and that place is not in the environment. We want to keep this valuable material where it should be – in the circular economy, where it can be reused, recycled or composted.

  • Unilever has a clear strategy: Less plastic. Better plastic. No plastic.
  • We’re accelerating our efforts towards a more circular economy for plastic and other packaging materials

Description & Key Features:

  • We are looking for a material solution that can be applied on an appropriate paper substrate, with stable barrier performance across different climate conditions (including tropical) for dry savoury products.
  • Any solutions to the above should allow recyclability in the conventional paper stream, be certified home compostable, marine safe and have no soil toxicity

Desired Outcome:

Unilever is open to various collaboration types, but solution providers must have at least proof of concept.

What we aren’t interested in:

  • if not certified food grade

To submit an application please click on the link below:

2021W3 Sustainable Packaging Dry Foods

Sustainable packaging (ice cream)

Background

Plastic has its place and that place is not in the environment. We want to keep this valuable material where it should be – in the circular economy, where it can be reused, recycled or composted.

  • Unilever has a clear strategy: Less plastic. Better plastic. No plastic.
  • We’re accelerating our efforts towards a more circular economy for plastic and other packaging materials

Description & Key Features:

  • We are looking for a material solution that can be applied on an appropriate paper substrate, with stable barrier performance under frozen conditions for Ice Cream products
  • Any solutions to the above should allow recyclability in the conventional paper stream, be certified home compostable, marine safe and have no soil toxicity

Desired Outcome:

Unilever is open to various collaboration types, but solution providers must have at least proof of concept.

What we aren’t interested in:

  • if not certified food grade

To submit an application please click on the link below:

2021 W4 Sustainable Packaging Ice Cream

New Routes to Improved Quality Post-Consumer Recycled Plastic

Background:

We are seeking new technologies that can significantly improve the quality of post-consumer recycled plastic that comes from mechanical recycling processes. The aim is to overcome the current restrictions in use of PCR, to enable more extensive use of these materials, across a broader portfolio of packaging formats.

Description:

Main Requirements

  • Improved material purity (eg no PP in an HDPE stream)
  • Improved odour control
  • Improved colour and consistency
  • Improved functional properties in use
  • Improved processing during conversion

Desired Outcome

Inclusion of post-consumer recycled plastic at high levels into plastic packaging of all types (eg bottles, caps, tubs, lids, pouches, sachets etc) whilst ensuring a good quality experience for consumers, with no compromise.

We are open to the following types of engagement: sponsored research for development and proof of concept testing, consultation, licensing existing technology for Unilever to apply, purchase commercial ready solution, open to any, etc..

New Routes to Improved Quality Post-Consumer Recycled Plastic challenge - send an application

Carbon Neutral or Regenerative Packaging

Background:

We are seeking new materials and technologies, that can significantly reduce the carbon footprint of our current packaging portfolio, whilst still providing the key properties required to meet consumer needs. The proposals should also ensure they have the ability to be fully circular by design, either as part of a recyclable/recycled material loop, or through a biological loop using composting.

Description:

Main Requirements

  • Examples of the types of technology areas that will be considered are:
  • Carbon capture technologies
  • Bioplastics from agricultural waste/regenerative agriculture
  • Alternative materials from land/water efficient carbon sinks (seaweed etc)
  • Materials with significantly lower GHG requirements for manufacture or conversion

Desired Outcome:

New packaging solutions which can reduce the carbon footprint of our portfolio, with an ambition for the packaging solution to be carbon neutral or regenerative by design.

We are open to the following types of engagement: sponsored research for development and proof of concept testing, consultation, licensing existing technology for Unilever to apply, purchase commercial ready solution, open to any, etc..

Carbon Neutral or Regenerative Packaging challenge - send an application

Improving Recyclability of Aerosol Deodorant Packaging Components

Background:

At Unilever, we’re completely rethinking our approach to packaging and we’re working hard to use less, better or no plastic.

We’ve set ambitious goals to tackle plastic waste and halve the amount of virgin plastic we use in our packaging; collect and process more plastic packaging than we sell; ensure that 100% of our plastic packaging is designed to be fully reusable, recyclable or compostable; use 25% recycled plastic in our packaging.

Challenge:

Unilever is seeking novel methods to recover the plastic actuator for recycling. This is the device at the top of an aerosol pack that when depressed, allows product to be sprayed. It’s also commonly called a sprayer or button.

Actuators are designed to make them difficult to remove for safety reasons, but when actuators aren’t removed prior to recycling, they end up in the metal recycling process and may not be recovered. They are also small and often made from multiple materials which further complicates recyclability.

Main Requirements:

Unilever is seeking a solution that:

  • Increases the recyclability of aerosol actuators
  • Can be implemented globally across many regional variations in recycling capability
  • Minimizes or avoids changes to moulds and assembly equipment across a wide range of product lines
  • Maintains a high level of safety for consumers

Areas of interest:

  1. Design solutions
  2. Alternative materials
  3. Solutions based on known or future waste sorting and handling
  4. Insights around consumer behavior
  5. Finance and funding models

Areas not of interest:

Technologies or materials with safety concerns.

Solutions that are not feasible for Unilever to implement.

Improving Recyclability of Aerosol Deodorant Packaging Components challenge - send an application

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