A PIONEERING Staffordshire company says a new product it has launched represents a ‘significant step forward’ in the quest for the holy grail of ecologically-friendly packaging – because it reduces their plastic usage by more than 70%.
Stone-based Woolcool has built an international reputation by creating eco-minded insulated packaging for temperature-sensitive products, such as food and medicines.
By using natural sheep’s wool to keep contents cool – instead of man-made insulators like polystyrene – the firm’s award-winning products already reduce plastic use by 90-95% compared to rivals.
But now the firm has gone one step further, launching a new Insulated Paper Pouch which they say provides further reduction in plastic usage of over 70% when compared to their own existing products.
Managing Director Josie Morris said the new paper pouch represents the ‘natural evolution’ of Woolcool products and follows ten years of investment in research and development.
“Woolcool has always been about using natural materials, namely wool, to create chilled packaging products that outperform the man-made alternatives,” she said.
“The wool we use is naturally abundant, recyclable, compostable, biodegradable and re-usable and, after millions of years of evolution, is an incredible insulator that, unlike polystyrene, doesn’t have to end up in landfill.
“We have spent over ten years and millions of pounds testing and fine-tuning our product range, but we are always looking at ways to continually improve. That’s why the Insulated Paper Pouch represents a significant step forward for us and, we think, packaging in general.”
The pouch is the first in Woolcool’s range to adopt a paper outer as opposed to a plastic-coated bag, drastically reducing the amount of plastic used in an already eco-friendly design.
Crucially, the new outer bag is made from robust ‘mailer’ paper, creating a strong, protective envelope that can withstand inclement weather without the need for plastic-based waterproofing.
Even the plastic liner inside the innovative packaging – necessary to protect its chilled contents from moisture created by ice packs – uses 33% less plastic in its coating.
“Due to regulations and current market options, the use of some plastic is still essential,” explained Josie, “as we have not yet found an alternative material with the characteristics that adhere to the standards needed. The fact is that after more than ten years of research we understand the benefits of responsible plastic use.
“There have been some exciting developments in ‘bio-plastics’ recently, but we do not believe they are quite ready for use in our products just yet – but watch this space, my belief is that we are on the cusp of a material revolution.”
Woolcool has won numerous awards for its innovative products, attracting Government backing and working with leading academics at universities such as Cambridge. In 2018, the firm received a Queen’s Award for Enterprise in the Innovation category, while earlier this year HRH the Prince of Wales visited its HQ to celebrate 10 years at the forefront of ecological packaging.
Woolcool’s sustainable chilled food packaging is used by Abel & Cole, Gousto, Fortnum & Mason and John Lewis, while pharmaceutical clients include Unilever, Henry Schein and Pharmacy2U.