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Unilever Seeking: Better Recyclability of Aerosol Packaging-Image of Young Black Woman applying aerosol deoderant cheerfully

Unilever is seeking novel methods to recover  and improve the recyclability of the plastic actuator.  This is the device at the top of a aerosol packaging that when depressed, allows the product to be sprayed.  It’s also commonly called a sprayer or button.

Actuators are designed to make them difficult to remove for safety reasons, but when actuators aren’t removed prior to recycling, they end up in the metal recycling process and may not be recovered.   They are also small and often made from multiple materials which further complicates recyclability.


At Unilever, we’re completely rethinking our approach to packaging and we’re working hard to use less, better or no plastic.

We’ve set ambitious goals to tackle plastic waste and halve the amount of virgin plastic we use in our packaging; collect and process more plastic packaging than we sell; ensure that 100% of our plastic packaging is designed to be fully reusable, recyclable or compostable; use 25% recycled plastic in our packaging.

Main Requirements

Unilever is seeking a solution that:

  • Increases the recyclability of aerosol actuators
  • Can be implemented globally across many regional variations in recycling capability
  • Minimizes or avoids changes to moulds and assembly equipment across a wide range of product lines
  • Maintains a high level of safety for consumers

Areas of Interest

  • Design solutions
  • Alternative materials
  • Solutions based on known or future waste sorting and handling
  • Insights around consumer behavior
  • Finance and funding models


Areas Not of Interest

  • Technologies or materials with safety concerns.
  • Solutions that are not feasible for Unilever to implement.


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