Consumers are increasingly embracing sustainable and environmental approaches to product packaging, an expectation of responsibility and waste management that is leading more and more brands to experiment with minimal or more easily recycled approaches to packaging familiar products.

Unilever is now testing these waters with their revised packaging for coated ice-cream-on-a-stick Solero in the UK.

Wrapper-less multipack

Unilever has launched a wrapper-less multipack for its Solero Organic Peach ice cream. Instead of each ice cream featuring a sealed plastic wrapper, the multipack box features built-on compartments into which each unwrapped ice cream is inserted. Claimed to be an industry first, Unilever states this uses 35% less plastic than previous multi-packs.

The new multipack also uses special polyethene-coated cardboard to protect against dampness and melting, which has the benefit of being widely recyclable in the UK. It is being trialled exclusively with Ocado, with a potential roll out on a wider basis depending on consumer reception.

Prevailing consumer trends provide a good grounding for such a strategy. 25% of consumers surveyed globally by GlobalData (Q3 2018 global consumer survey) stated that they would buy more of a product, or buy it more frequently if it was unpackaged; 35% would similarly increase their purchases of such products if they came without any plastic used in their packaging. While the latter is often difficult to achieve given the advantages of plastic packaging, concerted efforts to reduce usage and limit it to easily recyclable forms is appealing.

In the Solero case, it also fits within a broader message of ethical and responsible features; Solero is stated to be gluten-free and vegan-friendly, facets that often align well with a reduced packaging footprint from an individual consumer ethos perspective.

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Overall, the product is an example of the innovation that can be expected to proliferate across fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) as expectations of, and calls for, minimal or responsible plastic usage continues to gain traction.