A Lucozade Ribena Suntory-backed edible, plastic-free packaging innovation is taking a step closer to a commerial roll-out – thanks to newly secured UK Government funding.
The capsules, called Oohos, are made from a material called Notpla™ based on seaweed extract and offer a way to deliver drinks under 100ml in a plastic-free form. They are not only completely edible but also naturally biodegrade in four to six weeks – just as quickly as a piece of fruit.
Lucozade Ribena Suntory is a leading soft drinks businesses in the UK and Ireland. LRS was formed in 2014 and is part of Suntory Beverage & Food Europe.
The funding, secured by Ooho manufacturer Notpla, in partnership with Lucozade Ribena Suntory and Vita Mojo, has been awarded by Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation – the UK Government’s innovation agency.
Professor Duncan Wingham, Executive Chair of NERC – the Natural Environment Research Council for UK Research and Innovation, said: “The funding of this project along with other programmes, will help establish the UK as a leading innovator in smart and sustainable plastic packaging solutions, delivering cleaner growth across the supply chain, with a dramatic reduction in plastic waste entering the environment by 2025.”
The funding will focus on perfecting the technology behind Oohos, with the aim of creating a machine that could be installed in gyms or restaurants and manufacture up to 3,000 Oohos a day with drinks like Lucozade Sport. The machine could operate similarly to a barista coffee machine and allow customers to buy liquid-filled Oohos directly from locations such as local coffee shops and gyms.
This is an exciting and essential step towards unlocking the potential of Ooho – and one that Lucozade Ribena Suntory is proud to be a part of, as the company looks to reduce the amount of plastic it uses. Lucozade Ribena Suntory has already successfully trialled Oohos filled with Lucozade Sport drinks and gels at four sporting events since September 2018, with over 42,000 Oohos handed out to participants.
Most recently, over 36,000 Lucozade Sport Oohos were sampled at the 2019 Virgin Media London Marathon, which had very positive responses from consumers. A survey found that 82% of those who tried a Lucozade Sport-filled Ooho found them “appealing” or “very appealing”.
Michelle Norman, Director of External Affairs and Sustainability at Lucozade Ribena Suntory comments: “Oohos offer Lucozade Ribena Suntory a completely new and innovative way to deliver on-the-go servings of Lucozade Sport to consumers. With Government backing, we are excited to see how Oohos can be rolled out and made more widely available. We are proud to be collaborating with Notpla on such an innovative move and we will continue to make positive steps to become as sustainable as possible.”
Notpla, a London-based sustainable packaging start-up spun-out of Imperial College London, is developing an entire range of packaging alternatives out of seaweed and other plant materials. The company is ‘thrilled to have received Government support for this project, said Lise Honsinger, CFO at Notpla, adding that it “moves us one step closer to seeing our product commercialised, and also allows us to grow the team, creating four new engineering roles this year”.
The partnership with Ooho sits alongside a number of other innovative moves that see Lucozade Ribena Suntory reinvent its relationship with single-use plastics. Earlier this year, the company announced a bottle redesign across its core drinks, putting the bottle-to-bottle recyclability at the heart of the new design. As a founding signatory of the UK Plastics Pact, the company has committed to eliminate problematic or unnecessary single-use plastic packaging and ensure 100% of its plastic packaging is reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025.