Sponsored By

Dove Body Wash bottles will contain at a minimum 15% less plastic as a result of a newly developed packaging technology launched by Unilever. The MuCell technology for extrusion blow molding (EBM) was created in close collaboration with two of Unilever's global packaging suppliers, Alpla and MuCell Extrusion. It represents a breakthrough in bottle technology by using gas-injection to create bubbles in the middle layer of the wall to reduce bottle density and the amount of plastic required.

Clare Goldsberry

April 23, 2014

2 Min Read
Updated: Unilever expands use of MuCell technology from Zotefoams

The technology will be deployed first in Europe across the Dove Body Wash line, before rolling the technology out. With up to 33 million Dove Body Wash bottles sold across Europe in 2013, the new technology stands to save up to 275 tons of plastic a year. A full rollout across every Unilever product and packaging format could save up to 27,000 tons of plastic and contribute significantly to the target set out in the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan to halve waste footprint by 2020, according to a release from Zoetfoams plc.

Zotefoams plc (Croydon, UK) specializes in cellular material technology using a unique manufacturing process with environmentally friendly nitrogen expansion. Zotefoams also owns and licenses patented MuCell, a registered trademark of Trexel Inc., licensed exclusively to MuCell Extrusion LLC for use in microcellular foaming technology of extrusion products.

Mark Lindenfelzer, President of MuCell Extrusion LLC (Woburn, MA), said, "MuCell technology is an exciting innovation. Whilst consumers won't see any difference in the bottles, the impact on the environment will be very real. We're delighted to be part of this development and believe that it marks a real shift for manufacturers who want to behave responsibly."

Unilever will waive specific exclusivity rights by January 2015 so that other manufacturers can start to use the technology across their brands and products. Paul Howells, Vice President, R&D Packaging, at Unilever, explains, "We're always on the search for new technologies that can help us achieve our ambition to build a more sustainable business and halve our environmental footprint, and working with our two partners, we've created a unique technology that will transform our portfolio.

"But there's only so much that Unilever can achieve on our own; and by opening up access to other manufacturers we will really start to see an impact. We very much hope that our peers in the industry will take advantage of this technology, too, and apply it to their products."

Over the past few years, the MuCell microcellular foaming technology has been used in some very unique applications, including the in-mold 3D label that was originally developed for the Paccor/Unilever 500 g polypropylene margarine tub. It won the DuPont Silver Award in 2013 as well as the Emerging Technology award in SPI's International Design Competition at NPE 2012.

Zotefoams produces lightweight foams in Croydon, UK, and Kentucky, USA for diverse markets worldwide through its global sales force.

Editor's note: An earlier version of this article included an image of margarine tubs that are injection molded using Trexel's MuCell process but that are not blow molded and were not developed by MuCell Extrusion. The image has been removed. We apologize for any confusion caused.

About the Author(s)

Clare Goldsberry

Until she retired in September 2021, Clare Goldsberry reported on the plastics industry for more than 30 years. In addition to the 10,000+ articles she has written, by her own estimation, she is the author of several books, including The Business of Injection Molding: How to succeed as a custom molder and Purchasing Injection Molds: A buyers guide. Goldsberry is a member of the Plastics Pioneers Association. She reflected on her long career in "Time to Say Good-Bye."

Sign up for the PlasticsToday NewsFeed newsletter.

You May Also Like