Iconic Pot noodle snack in recyclable paper pot trial

Instant hot snack brand, Pot Noodle, is undergoing its most significant innovation since it launched almost half a century ago with a trial of a new recyclable paper pot, made with FSC-certified paper.

The new paper pot, which is 90% paper, has launched exclusively in retailer Tesco, with an initial stock of 500,000 of the brand’s most popular flavour, Chicken & Mushroom.

The trial will be used to gain shopper feedback and, if it’s successful, the aim is to switch the full Pot Noodle range to paper pots – a move which, once complete, could remove 4,000 tonnes of virgin plastic each year. Insights from the trial will support the scale-up of the innovation at the Pot Noodle factory.

Using alternative materials – like paper – will play an important role in delivering a commitment to halve the use of virgin plastic.

The process to develop and refine the paper pot – which took over three years – was led by the R&D teams at Hive, Unilever’s Global Foods Innovation Centre in the Netherlands, working closely with packaging experts in the UK.

The challenge was to identify the most effective way to reduce the plastic used in each pot, while also ensuring the packaging still holds its distinctive shape and delivers the same quality eating experience that fans of the brand – affectionately known as Noodlers – have come to love.

Andre Burger, general manager foods (nutrition) at Unilever UK & Ireland, noted the challenge of making the packaging of Pot Noodle – a much-loved British brand for over 40 years – better.

“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,” Burger said. “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.”

The new pots can be recycled at home with other cardboard and paper and include on-pack recycling labels to provide clear guidance to UK shoppers on how to dispose of the packaging. A single layer of ultra-thin plastic film is used to provide barrier protection, which ensures ingredients remain fresh and protects the paper when water is added but doesn’t inhibit the recyclability of the pot.

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