Paper bottle maker targets wider dairy eco-concerns

By Neil Merrett

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Milk

The manufacturer of a paperboard and plastic hybrid milk bottle says it is looking to extend the use of the product to dairies across the UK, amidst growing global pressure on the industry to cut its waste and environmental impact.

GreenBottle says that following commencement of a pilot trial for the packaging last year with UK-based dairy Marybelle, the companies have this month extended their cooperation to make the bottled milk commercially available from this month in selected Asda stores.

Both Marybelle and Asda may not be the first companies to be looking towards improving milk pack sustainability, though they reflect a growing trend regarding new packaging forms to offset some green criticisms labelled at dairy groups.

While a number of these initiatives have been specifically focused on the UK market, recent research by ​AMI Consulting claimed that the developments could have major implications for dairy packaging across Europe.

The high penetration levels of plastic used by UK milk processors for their packaging, along with strong investment in both the country's retail and dairy sectors, has made the market a key area for innovation, according to AMI.

“The direction that milk packaging takes in theUKis a subject of interest throughoutEurope," the consultant stated.

Despite this potential, ​AMI strategic research manager John Nash said that the dairy industry had to find a delicate balance in terms of successfully bringing further innovation to their packaging.

"Consumers want more environmentally sensitive solutions in milk packaging, but they don't want to give up the functionality of existing packaging," the report stated.

Functionality claims

GreenBottle claims that its latest bottle developments can meet this joint demand for both green and convenience benefits through combining a recycled paper plastic shell and a low density plastic liner.

A spokesperson for the packager told that the product, which is moulded using egg carton technology, is fully recyclable without adversely compromising milk quality.

“The bottle has performed well during testing and has a similar durability to its plastic counterpart,” he claimed. “The shelf life of milk packaged in the green bottle is comparable with a​ High-density polyethylene (HDPE) bottle.”

As part of the cooperation, Marybelle’s milk products are to be sold in the GreenBottle at a number of Asda stores in the​ East of England.

Retailer push

However, rival retailers in the UK have also attempted to adapt their milk packaging to target consumer environmental concerns.

Sainsbury’s announced in June that​ at 35 of its stores it would be selling milk in ​two-pint recyclable plastic bags, which can be kept in a re-usable plastic jugs, before a wider roll out next year.

The packaging, which was designed in conjunction with UK-processor Dairy Crest, has been devised in a bid to cut milk-packaging waste by 75 per cent, according to the retailer.

Wider eco-focus

Packaging is just one area of a recently announced milk roadmap scheme, which industry association Dairy UK says has been designed to reduce the environmental impact of producing and transporting liquid milk.

"The Roadmap contains targets for closed loop recycling of plastic milk bottles as well as dairies sending near zero waste to landfill,"​ a spokesperson for the association stated. "Other projects include lightweighting bottles to reduce the amount of plastic used in making each one and offering consumers the option of fresh milk in bags, which generates far less waste than a bottle."

The roadmap has garnered interest from a number of its international counterparts, Dairy UK claims.

Related topics: Sustainability, Ingredients

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