Upfield touts plastic-free, recyclable tubs for butters and spreads

After years of research and development, the parent company of Flora is set to introduce plastic-free, recyclable tubs across its range of butters and spreads in what it claims is a world first.

Upfield touts plastic-free, recyclable tubs for butters and spreads

Image: Upfield

Upfield collaborated with materials science and technology company Footprint to develop the innovative packaging, which is made using compressed wet paper fibres. Paper used to produce the tubs is procured from sources certified under the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC). The tubs are certified as Conventional Plastic Free.

Ensuring that the packaging was waterproof and greaseproof while still being recyclable at kerbside with other papers and cardboards was a particular challenge. This is why most butters and spreads are sold either in plastic tubs or in plastic-coated flexible packaging.

Upfield’s new tubs were trialled in late 2023 on packs of Flora Plant sold in Austria. Now, they will be rolled out across Upfield’s European markets and its range of butters and spreads, including Flora, Rama, and Blue Band.

The company is notably aiming to reduce plastic use across its product portfolio by 80% between 2020 and 2030. Replacing up to two billion plastic tubs will be a key facet of delivering against this ambition.

Upfield’s head of packaging Karina Cerdeira said: “We are proud to have created with Footprint an innovative paper-based tub that is durable, leak-proof and appealing, which many thought would be impossible with paper. But after years of dedicated focus from joint Upfield and Footprint R&D teams and dozens of prototypes, we made the impossible, possible.

“We will continue pushing boundaries through further innovation to adapt for compostability, develop new sizes and formats, and refine towards the optimal solution. We hope what we’ve achieved inspires other businesses to keep pursuing positive change.”

Punnet switch

In related news, Sainsbury’s has this month become the first British supermarket to swap plastic punnets for cardboard alternatives for all of its mushrooms.

In total, 13 own-brand lines will be impacted. The first changes have already been made, with the remaining products set to change packaging by the end of the month.

The switch will mitigate the use of 55 million pieces of plastic each year as the retailer works to halve its plastic use by 2025, against a 2019 baseline.

Rival Lidl recently revealed that it has reduced plastic packaging across its own-brand ranges by around one-third since 2017.

Related news: Most global brands not on track for key plastics targets under Ellen MacArthur Foundation commitment

Comments (1)

  1. Aude Grasset says:

    This is quite encouraging but has a LCA been done to make sure the carbon impact of the new tubs is not worse than the plastic one? Cutting trees to create packaging is not particularly good for the climate or the environment.

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