Unilever’s Pot Noodle instant noodle brand is trialling a new, FSC-certified paper pot in a bid to cut down on 4,000 tonnes of virgin plastic every year.

Exclusive to Tesco stores, the trial will see 500,000 of Pot Noodle’s Chicken and Mushroom flavour repackaged in a paper pot. The design has apparently undergone a three-year development and refining process to retain the shape of traditional packs.

The new pots claim to be home-recyclable in existing cardboard and paper streams. A single, ultra-thin layer of plastic film has been applied to provide barrier protection, preserve the freshness of the ingredients, and protect the paper from water damage; however, these are not said to impact the recyclability of the pack.

OPRL’s recycling labels have also been applied to guide consumers through the recycling process. The repackaging is reported to be the biggest change made to the brand’s pot since its launch.

As part of the trial, Unilever is set to collect feedback and insights from consumers and use it to help scale up the new development at its Pot Noodle factory, where new capabilities have reportedly been introduced to smoothen the switch to paper-based production.

This trial hopes to contribute to Unilever’s sustainable packaging strategy and its goals to halve its use of virgin plastic, increase recycled plastic usage, transition into ultra-concentrated formulas using smaller bottles, and experiment with innovations such as refillable bottles.

“Pot Noodle has been a loved British brand for over 40 years, and whilst our great taste will never change, we’re always challenging ways to make our products and packaging better,” explained Andre Burger, general manager Foods (Nutrition) at Unilever UK & Ireland. “From material development and testing through to new manufacturing processes and capabilities, big packaging innovations require the investment of time and expertise across many teams and partners.

“There have been plenty of challenges along the way, but we are committed to reducing the plastic in our packaging and to a paper-based future for our pots, without compromising on the Pot Noodle experience our shoppers know and love. We are now excited to learn from this initial trial with the ambition of bringing our paper pots to more shoppers across the UK soon.”

Courtney Pallett, Packaging Campaigns manager at Tesco, added: “Removing or reducing plastic wherever we can remains a key focus for us, so we’re excited to work with Unilever to exclusively trial Pot Noodle’s new sustainably sourced, FSC certified paper packaging and to continue to work together to help protect our planet.”

In a collaboration between Fost Plus and the Belgian Engineering and R&D teams at Kellogg’s, Pringles crisps have been repacked in a new, 90% paper tube. The new pack hopes to achieve complete recyclability.

PepsiCo has conducted its own trials at Tesco in line with its plastic reduction efforts. These include testing out paper-based outer packaging for two flavours of its Walkers Baked six-pack multipacks and ‘bagless’ multipack packaging for its Snack A Jacks range.

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