Korea-based packaging manufacturer Yonwoo is seizing on the dynamic airless pump market to implement an engineering strategy aimed at improving the environmental impact of these particularly technical products.
With their hygienic profile, airless packs are well suited to the current pandemic context, and yet these dispensing solutions also have to meet consumers' growing ecological concerns. For beauty packaging supplier Yonwoo, a major player in the airless pump systems market, reduce, refill and recycle are the new rules of the game.
Yet simplifying an airless pump is complex as it initially consists of around 10 components made of different materials, including a metal spring. Yonwoo's major challenge has been the mono-material pump, a work in progress since 2013. After a first step that included integrating a POM spring, the company has developed a version made entirely of polyolefins: the spring is in PE, with other parts in PP — two plastics that can be recycled together. "We will gradually expand this version to all our pump models. Its results in the lab and on consumer panels are excellent," notes Theo Kim, Key Account Manager at Yonwoo.
While making a pump plastic-free isn't a possibility today, the company is aiming to reduce the use of plastic by re-engineering and/or making the pack refillable. Yonwoo's Easy Airless line, for example, claims a 66% savings in plastic through its refill format and can even be made of recycled plastic: PCR PET for the outer bottle and cap and PCR PP for the refill and cap.
Another initiative is the Paper Pointneck range of jars and bottles, which consists of plastic containers inserted into a cardboard sheath. The 100ml format is made of 40% less plastic than a standard model thanks in part to its compact shape and partially hollowed-out base. The plastic and cardboard fit together without adhesive and can be separated after use thanks to a notch in the cardboard. The adaptation of an airless pump to this type of bottle is currently under study.
Yonwoo manufactures some 200 million airless packs per year, which makes up between 65% and 70% of its total sales, according to Sugjae Lee, General Manager Sales. Exports account for half of the supplier’s sales. Despite a 15% decline in revenue last year, the company is upbeat about the current year; 2021 sales are expected to be significantly higher than its 2019 revenue of $250m.