Arla Foods is partnering with Swedish start-up Blue Ocean Closures to create a fibre-based cap for its cardboard milk cartons.
The company said this could be a first in the dairy industry and would reduce Arla’s plastic consumption by more than 500 tonnes annually if implemented.
Accounting for around 23% of the plastic used in Arla’s cartons, the farmer-owned dairy cooperative is focusing on eliminating the use of fossil-based virgin plastic in its packaging by 2030, starting with the caps on its cardboard cartons.
Chief commercial officer at Arla Foods, Peter Giørtz-Carlsen, said: “Improving our packaging, including reducing our use of plastic, is imperative to us and we know that consumers are also very invested in this area. This project to explore what could very well be the first fibre-based cap on milk cartons is very exciting and shows that we at Arla are constantly looking to improve and lead the transformation of sustainable packaging.”
The caps are made from sustainably sourced FSC fibre material combined with a thin barrier coating. They use advanced proprietary vacuum press forming and are bio-based, ocean biodegradable, and recyclable as paper.
Lars Sandberg, CEO at Blue Ocean Closures, commented: “We are delighted to work with Arla, acting as a frontrunner to create a real difference in packaging sustainability. With increased fibre content, the solution will increase recyclability, starting in Scandinavia and paving the way for global change.”
Part owner of Blue Ocean Closures, Alpla is involved in the technical development and Christian Zmölnig, director of corporate research, development and innovation, said: “As part of Alpla’s important strategic development in the circular economy, we see great potential in this collaboration between Arla and Blue Ocean Closures”.
With funding from Arla Foods, the plan is to develop a fully functional prototype and complete the testing phase by the beginning of next year.
Arla implemented this change on its Danish organic range in 2020, but it was said to be criticised by consumers “unhappy with the loss of convenience”.
Giørtz-Carlsen concluded: “We know that consumers like the convenience a cap provides and while we have removed the cap completely from some of our ranges, we acknowledge this need and want to provide a choice for consumers . But if we have to have a cap, we want to create the best possible one and that is what we are doing now.”
Arla Foods uses milk cartons in several markets, including Denmark, Sweden and Netherlands.
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