Lucozade Ribena Suntory gets go-ahead for edible seaweed sachets in gym vending machines

Following a successful pilot at races in 2018, Lucozade Ribena Suntory (LRS) is trialling drinks housed in plastic-free, edible seaweed-based sachets in vending machines in gyms.

LRS, along with Just Eat and Selfridges, has been a long-term corporate backer of the innovative packaging. Image: LRS 

LRS, along with Just Eat and Selfridges, has been a long-term corporate backer of the innovative packaging. Image: LRS 

The packaging, called Oohos, are created by packaging firm Skipping Rocks Lab and made by manufacturing firm Notpla. They can be eaten, composted or disposed of in normal household bins. Once discarded, they take around six weeks to decompose.

LRS first trialled Oohos at large-scale sporting events last year, mindful of the fact that they can only house beverages of up to 100ml. 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”.

With this positive feedback in mind – but also considering the format’s potential challenges in a retail environment – LRS will trial the Oohos in vending machines at David Lloyd’s Hampton leisure centre in South London.

The UK Government’s Innovate UK arm has provided LRS and Notpla with funding to create a machine that can manufacture and dispense up to 3,000 30ml Oohos daily. The machine was installed in the leisure centre this week for a trial period of undisclosed length, during which, users will be asked to provide feedback on their experience.

LRS claims that the ability for Oohos to be dispensed by machine rather than by hand shows that “progression in technology [is] paving the way for Oohos to become a real contender in sustainable packaging.”

The firm’s business transformation manager Jo Padwick said the trial forms an important step towards LRS’s commitment to eliminate virgin fossil plastics from its European packaging portfolio by 2030.

The installation of the vending machine comes in the same week that LRS confirmed plans to expand its Ooho offerings at sporting events this year. The sachets will be offered by LRS at nine races between April and October, as well as the London Marathon Expo.

Plastics strategy

LRS  is a member of WRAP’s UK Plastics Pact, which requires signatories to eliminate unnecessary single-use packaging through redesign; make all plastic packaging 100% reusable, recyclable or compostable; achieving recycling and composting rates of 70% or more for packaging, and including 30% recycled content across all packaging. All of these aims have 2025 deadlines.

The firm’s supply chain director for the UK & Ireland, Chris Kane, recently provided edie with an overview of progress towards these aims, as well as insight into its broader plastics packaging work.

You can read the interview with Kane in full here.

Aside from LRS, other corporate backers of Oohos include Just Eat and Unilever-owned Hellmann’s. 65 of Just Eat’s restaurant partners are offering a range of Hellmann’s ketchup, BBQ, tartare and garlic sauces served in the seaweed sachets, as part of the takeaway platform’s wider commitment introduced in March 2018 to combat reliance on single-use plastics.

Sarah George



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