Unilever’s ice cream brand Magnum has today announced the rollout of more than 7 million recyclable ice cream tubs made with recycled polypropylene (rPP), following a successful pilot launch in Spain, Belgium, and the Netherlands last year.

Although there have been rPP options available for beauty and personal care products for some time, there were previously no solutions approved for use in food-grade packaging. So, Unilever collaborated with SABIC – a global chemical company – to develop one.

The company says that the rPP used in Magnum is not obtained by traditional mechanical recycling, as this is not suitable for food contact packaging. Instead, an innovative recycling process is used that transforms the plastic waste into a resin with, reportedly, the same characteristics as virgin food-grade resin.

This new technology allows Unilever to recycle low quality, mixed plastic waste that would otherwise most likely be destined for incineration or landfill. Unilever says that it is not currently possible to produce food-grade rPP with any other form of recycling system.

By the end of 2020, Magnum projects that it will use an estimated 160,000 kilograms of certified recycled plastic material.

The move is part of Unilever’s wider global packaging commitment to halve the company’s use of virgin plastic by reducing its absolute use of plastic packaging by more than 100,000 tonnes and accelerating its use of recycled plastic by 2025.

“We are proud to be the world’s first ice cream brand to pioneer this ground-breaking technology,” says Julien Barraux, global Magnum vice president. “Through this new approach, we hope to lead the food and refreshment industry towards a more sustainable future, paving the way to a circular economy.”

Mark Vester, circular economy leader at SABIC, said: “Magnum tubs display a great collaborative effort between Unilever and SABIC to create the world’s first recycled ice-cream packaging, a true collaboration and innovation which drives positive change towards closing the loop on used plastics.”

The Magnum tubs are now available in Europe and due to be launched globally from 2021 onwards.