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Bayer's Box-Free Bottles: Less Packaging, Different Materials

<p>For close to a year, some Bayer and Aleve products have been sold as stand-alone bottles instead of bottles inside boxes. While reducing the amount of packaging material, the move also changed the cap and label materials.<br /> &nbsp;</p>

For close to a year, some Bayer and Aleve products have been sold as stand-alone bottles instead of bottles packaged inside boxes. While the change reduces the amount of paper that goes into the packaging as well as possible waste packaging, the new bottles' caps and labels are made with different materials.

The new bottles, which started going out to stores in April last year, have a different, more-oval shape than traditional Bayer and Aleve bottles since they did not need to also fit inside of boxes.

The change completely eliminates all of the material used to make the bottles' boxes and any printed material that would have been inside of them. The product information and drug facts are instead printed on multi-panel labels that can be peeled off from the bottles and reattached. The labels, though, are unrecyclable.

The new bottles were also developed with an easy-to-open cap, which includes a soft-plastic grip around it. The previous caps were made of polypropylene (resin code number 5), and the new ones are classified under the "other" category of plastics, resin code 7. The bottles themselves are made of commonly-recycled HDPE, identified by the resin code 2.

Caps in general are not collected through recycling systems. While neither type of plastic is an ideal material from an environmental standpoint, number 5 plastic can be recycled back into itself, while number 7 plastic is turned into items like plastic lumber.

Even though Bayer switched to unrecyclable product information sheets and changed the cap materials, the bigger, and positive, impact from the change is the elimination of the boxes. The "reduction" part of the "reduce, reuse, recycle" mantra typically results in fewer impacts than the “recycle” portion.

Some of the Bayer HealthCare products that the boxless bottles are being used for include the 200-count Genuine Bayer Aspirin, 300-count Low Dose Bayer, and 100- and 200-count Aleve Arthritis. Bayer told that its smaller-count bottles don't come without boxes because they didn't work well in retail displays that use trays that automatically push products forward.

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