Unilever’s ‘compressed’ deodorant cans set for big sustainable impact

Unilever – the UK’s largest deodorant manufacturer - has today unveiled a radical new product design that it hopes will revolutionise the deodorant aisle and make the category more sustainable.

From today, consumers will start to see smaller, ‘compressed’ cans for female deodorant on supermarkets shelves around the country. The new cans – from the Sure, Dove and Vaseline brands 1 – last the same length of time as previous cans while using only 50 per cent of the propellant, making them half the size (ml). 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 per cent per can.

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

Amanda Sourry, Chairman, Unilever UK & Ireland, said, “Unilever is becoming a leader in sustainability and we believe that this new innovation represents a genuine shift change in the way aerosol deodorants can be manufactured.

“The reduced environmental impact of providing consumers with a smaller can will take us another step closer to realising our global ambition of doubling the size of our business while reducing our environmental impact.”

The new cans are a result of years of research and leading-edge innovation, which will allow Unilever to make positive progress towards two of its ambitious Unilever 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 per cent 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 tonnes of aluminium2 and a resultant 283 tonnes reduction in carbon3 used every year for Unilever brands alone. 4

Richard Swannell, Director of Design and Waste Prevention at WRAP, commented, “The new aerosols represent a step change in the aerosol category and WRAP applauds Unilever’s leadership role in evolving the format. Through the Courtauld Commitment we have encouraged packaging innovation and these new aerosols deliver both impressive packaging and transport savings. We hope the environmental benefits, as well as the convenient small size, are appreciated by the consumer. Unilever’s prominent support for the recycling of aerosols at the end of their life is also demonstrated through supporting initiatives such as Metal Matters.”

This is the first major packaging reduction initiative for aerosol deodorants since they were introduced in the late 1960s but it is not the first time Unilever has led the industry, transforming a product to make it more sustainable. In 2007 the company introduced Persil Small & Mighty which concentrated the same number of washes into a bottle one third of the size, resulting in one third of the packaging, one third the water use and only one third the required transport compared to diluted liquids – leading the way to a more sustainable category.

Unilever follows a hierarchy of priorities for waste channels, with reducing at source being the most sustainable option, through to re-using, 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 Organisation (ALUPRO) and the British Aerosol Manufacturers’ Association (BAMA) in encouraging local authorities to accept empty aerosols in kerbside collections and recycling can banks. The drive has been highly successful and now 86 per cent of local authorities collect aerosols for recycling in this way. For more information on recycling, visit Recycle Now.


Notes to Editors:

  1. Available in 75ml cans (previously 150ml) for women.
  2. To put this into context this would save enough aluminium to make 1,846,000 soft drink cans or 12,000 aluminium bikes.
  3. These savings in CO2 would be equal to the average emissions of a car travelling 51 times around the earth.
  4. Figures calculated using Unilever aerosol antiperspirant market share in the UK according to IRI data for UK 2012 and weighted average aluminium and CO2 reductions for Sure, Dove & Vaseline 150ml cans.

About Unilever

Unilever is one of the world’s leading suppliers of Food, Home and Personal Care products with sales in over 190 countries. Our products are present in 7 out of 10 homes globally and are used by over 2 billion people on a daily basis. We work with 171,000 colleagues around the world, and we are on track to generate annual sales of €50 billion in 2012. 

Over half of our company’s footprint is in the faster growing developing and emerging markets (56% in 2011). Working to create a better future every day, we help people feel good, look good and get more out of life. Our portfolio includes some of the world’s best known brands such as Knorr, Persil , Dove, Hellmann’s, TRESemmé, Lipton, Sure, Wall’s and Lynx.

Our ambition is to double the size of our business, whilst reducing our overall environmental footprint (including sourcing, consumer use and disposal) and increasing our positive social impact. We are committed to helping more than a billion people take action to improve their health and well-being, sourcing all our agricultural raw materials sustainably by 2020, and decoupling our growth from our environmental impact. Supporting our three big goals are more than 50 time-based targets. See more on the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan.

Unilever has been recognised in the Dow Jones Sustainability World Indexes for 14 consecutive years. We are included in the FTSE4Good Index Series and attained a top environmental score of 5, leading to inclusion in the FTSE4Good Environmental Leaders Europe 40 Index. In 2011 Unilever led the Climate Counts Company Scorecard and for the second year topped the list of Global Corporate Sustainability Leaders in the GlobeScan / SustainAbility latest annual survey (2012). The company is an employer of choice in many of the countries in which it operates and is seen as a symbol for innovation and leadership development.

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