Upfield is rolling out a plastic-free, oil-resistant paper tub – developed in collaboration with Footprint, MCC, Pagès Group, and Emsur – for its plant-based butters and spreads in a bid to replace over 25,000 tons of plastic waste every year.

Compressed wet paper fibres sourced from a PEFC-certified supplier are used to manufacture the tub, which is apparently waterproof and oil-resistant. Since it does not contain a plastic liner, it is recyclable in local paper waste streams, having received verification from a leading European recycling company.

The tub has also received Conventional Plastic Free certification and is expected to achieve home compostability certification by 2025.

Beginning in Austria with the Flora Plant brand in late 2023, the rollout will eventually apply to other Upfield brands like Rama and BlueBand. The company hopes that up to two billion plastic tubs will be replaced by 2030, and that it can achieve an 80% reduction in plastic across its portfolio within the same time frame.

“As the global leader in plant-based foods, we take our responsibility to make a positive impact on the world seriously,” said David Haines, Group CEO for Upfield. “Globally, 40% of all plastic produced is for packaging that is used once and then discarded, it is clear that the issue of plastic waste is one of the most critical facing our environment.

“When we established Upfield, innovating our way out of plastic tubs was our moon-shot and I am very proud of all Upfielders that contributed to this success.

“Consumers today demand products that benefit both people and the planet. Our plant-based butters and spreads do exactly that. We’re excited about the potential to launch this across our most iconic brands in some of our most important markets.”

Karina Cerdeira, head of Packaging for Upfield, commented: “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.

“This new paper tub marks a true milestone for sustainable packaging that significantly minimizes reliance on plastic. 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.”

“Footprint’s commitment to a more sustainable planet is showcased through our partnership with Upfield,” added Yoke Chung, co-founder and chief Technology & Innovation officer for Footprint. “The introduction of a ground-breaking solution, in collaboration with Upfield, establishes a pioneering industry standard.

“This marks the introduction of the first oil-resistant paper tub for plant-based spreads. We are proud to collaborate with Upfield on this transformative endeavour, as it resonates with our shared objective of assisting customers in realizing their sustainability goals.

“This collaborative effort underscores the transformative influence of innovation in fostering positive environmental change to shape a brighter future for everyone.”

The development comes after Flora unified its brand identity late last year. The redesign intends to capture Flora’s commitment to protecting people and the plant via its plant-based alternative to dairy butter.

Sirane has also expanded its ‘Earth Packaging’ range with a plastic-free, recyclable butter wrap made from paper, providing a range of different barrier options.

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