Bringing a Group to SB'24? Explore Our Special Rates for 3 or More!

Product, Service & Design Innovation
Unilever Redesigns Aerosol Deodorants For Smaller Environmental Impact

Unilever, the UK’s largest deodorant manufacturer, unveiled a new product design that could make the category significantly more sustainable.

Unilever, the UK’s largest deodorant manufacturer, unveiled a new product design that could make the category significantly more sustainable.

Beginning this week, consumers will start to see smaller, compressed aerosal cans for female deodorant on supermarkets shelves around the UK. The new cans — from the Sure, Dove and Vaseline brands — last the same length of time as previous cans while using only 50 percent of the propellant, making them half the size. As a result, switching to the new can will have tangible environmental benefits, including reducing the overall carbon footprint of the product by an average of 25 percent per can.

Across the three brands, the new-look cans use on average 25 percent less aluminum and, due to the smaller size, 53 percent more cans fit onto a shipping pallet. This results in a significant reduction in the greenhouse gas associated with having 35 percent fewer trucks on the road transporting the products.

Unilever did not say if or when it intends to expand the use of the new cans across the entire product category, however, the company is relying on the new design to help make progress towards two of its Sustainable Living Plan targets:

  • to halve the greenhouse gas impact of products across the lifecycle by 2020
  • to halve the waste associated with the disposal of products by 2020

In a product category where 80 percent of UK and Ireland consumers prefer aerosols to roll on or stick deodorants, and some 19 million cans of female aerosol deodorant are used per year in the UK, this means an immediate 24 fewer metric tons of aluminium and a resultant 283 metric tons reduction in carbon used every year for Unilever brands alone, the company said.

This is the first major packaging reduction initiative for aerosol deodorants since they were introduced in the late 1960s, Unilever said.

Unilever says it follows a hierarchy of priorities for waste channels, with reducing at source being the most sustainable option, through to reusing, recycling and energy capture from waste. The compressed innovation allows Unilever to make a significant environmental impact through reducing the amount of materials used in the can. However, this is also supported by the work the company has done in recent years with the Aluminium Packaging Recycling Organization (ALUPRO) and the British Aerosol Manufacturers’ Association (BAMA) in encouraging local authorities to accept empty aerosols in curbside collections and recycling can banks. Unilever said 86 percent of local authorities now collect aerosols for recycling in this way.

“The reduced environmental impact of providing consumers with a smaller can will take us another step closer to realizing our global ambition of doubling the size of our business while reducing our environmental impact,” Amanda Sourry, Chairman of Unilever UK & Ireland, said,

@Bart_King is a freelance writer and communications consultant.