Edible drinks bottles backed by Government funding

Oohos, the edible, plastic-free packaging capsules trialled by companies such as Lucozade Ribena Suntory, have received more than £300,000 in Government funding that will help boost daily manufacturing outputs.

More than 36,000 Lucozade Sport Oohos were sampled at the 2019 Virgin Media London Marathon

More than 36,000 Lucozade Sport Oohos were sampled at the 2019 Virgin Media London Marathon

The sachets, created by packaging firm Skipping Rocks Lab and made by manufacturing firm Notpla, is a seaweed extract that is used as edible packaging for drinks under 100ml. The plastic-free packaging can be eaten, composted or disposed of in normal household bins. Once discarded, they take around six weeks to decompose.

The Oohos capsules have already been trialled by Lucozade Ribena Suntory, the Vita Mojo restaurant and Just Eat, and have now received more than £300,000 in Innovate UK funding.

The funding will be used to improve the manufacturing of Oohos, creating a machine that could be installed at gyms or restaurants. The machine would operate like an on-the-go coffee machine and enable customers to buy liquid-filled capsules. This could lead to up to 3,000 capsules being manufactured daily.

The Natural Environment Research Council for UK Research and Innovation’s executive chair Professor Duncan Wingham said: “The funding of this project along with other programmes, will help establish the UK as a leading innovator in smart and sustainable plastic packaging solutions, delivering cleaner growth across the supply chain, with a dramatic reduction in plastic waste entering the environment by 2025.”

Just Eat had trialled the sachets with its restaurant partner, The Fat Pizza, in Southend for six weeks between July and September 2018. The trial has since been expanded to 10 London restaurants following “excellent feedback”.  

With more than 11 billion plastic condiment sachets sold globally, Just Eat will assess the feasibility of introducing the sachets – used for ketchup and garlic and herb dips – across its network of 29,000 UK restaurant partners. For Just Eat, the sachets form part of a wider commitment introduced in March 2018 to combat a reliance on single-use plastics.

Sustainable sport

As for Lucozade Ribena Suntory, the firm trialled Oohos filled with Lucozade Sport drinks and gels at four sporting events since September 2018, with more than 42,000 capsules handed out to participants.

More than 36,000 Lucozade Sport Oohos were sampled at the 2019 Virgin Media London Marathon. A survey at the event found that 82% of those who tried Oohos filled with Lucozade Sport found them “appealing” or “very appealing”.

As Lucozade Ribena Suntory strives to meet its WRAP UK Plastics Pact pledge of making all plastic packaging 100% recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2025, it has worked to reduce the weight of its Ribena bottles, source more recycled plastic content and redesign several packaging lines to boost detectability in recycling centres. More recently, it confirmed that it will only distribute bottles made with 100% recycled plastic at all mass sporting events it is involved with.

These actions have been complemented by a string of more consumer-facing initiatives, such as the installation of bottle-shaped recycling bins at leisure centres and the launch of a straw and carton recycling communications campaign by the Ribena brand.

Lucozade Ribena Suntory’s director of external affairs and sustainability, Michelle Norman, said: “Oohos offer Lucozade Ribena Suntory a completely new and innovative way to deliver on-the-go servings of Lucozade Sport to consumers. With Government backing, we are excited to see how Oohos can be rolled out and made more widely available.”

Michelle Norman recently appeared on edie’s Mission Possible sofa video chat, alongside Marcel Arsand, chairman at Can Makers and Brendan Rouse, sustainability manager at Landsec. The 20-minute chat saw the sustainability experts discuss how plastics and resource efficiency are a gateway to wider behaviour change. Watch it below.

Matt Mace



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