Upfield breaks the mould with world’s first plastic-free, recyclable tub for plant butters and spreads

In announcing the world’s first plastic-free, recyclable tub for its plant butters and spreads, Upfield is following four years of innovation, in collaboration with Footprint, MCC and Pagès Group, to mark a transition to a paper solution across its portfolio.

The company’s ambition is to reduce plastic content by 80% by 2030.

Initially launched in Austria with Flora Plant towards the end of 2023, Upfield expects further scaling of its paper solution, aiming to replace up to two billion plastic tubs by 2030, avoiding more than 25,000 tons of plastic waste per year.

The pioneering paper tubs were developed with Upfield’s leading research & development team utilising Footprint’s material sciences technology. They are made from compressed wet paper fibres and are waterproof, oil-proof, and recyclable in local paper waste streams. The tub has received Conventional Plastic Free Certification and uses paper from a PEFC-certified supplier. Upfield expects the packaging to achieve home compostability certification by 2025.

David Haines, group CEO for Upfield, noted how the global leader in plant-based foods, takes its responsibility to make a positive impact on the world seriously. 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 the 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 continue to work towards this goal,” Haines said. “Consumers today demand products that benefit both people and the planet. Our plant 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.”

Upfield’s paper tubs do not have a plastic liner so they can be recycled along with other paper and cardboard household waste, as verified by a leading European recycling company.

Karina Cerdeira, head of packaging for Upfield, said the company is proud to have created, with Footprint, an”innovative paper-based tub that is durable, oil-resistant and appealing and which many thought would be impossible with paper”.

Cerderia added: “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 minimises 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.”

Yoke Chung, co-founder and chief technology & innovation officer for Footprint said Footprint’s commitment to a more sustainable planet is showcased through the partnership with Upfield.

“The introduction of a ground-breaking solution, in collaboration with Upfield establishes a pioneering industry standard,” Chung stressed. “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 realising their sustainability goals. This collaborative effort underscores the transformative influence of innovation in fostering positive environmental change to shape a brighter future for everyone.”

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