Packaging and processing innovation: Saputo’s grated cheese packaging, Ocado’s digital deposit return scheme win gongs

By Teodora Lyubomirova

- Last updated on GMT


Related tags Cheese recyclable packaging Milk Sustainability

A 'world-first' industry scheme that rewarded consumers for recycling their used milk bottles, and a new recyclable packaging for grated cheese developed by Amcor were among the dairy industry innovations recognized at the UK Packaging Awards 2023.

Amcor and Saputo Dairy UK were awarded ‘Flexible Plastic Pack of the Year’ for developing a recycle-ready grated cheese packaging for cheese brand Cathedral City. The flowpack meets consumer needs for product freshness, convenience and improved sustainability thanks to providing 47% reduction in carbon footprint compared to Cathedral City’s previous packaging - Saputo Dairy UK changed from an OPP/OPA/PEP packaging to a full PE solution – achieving a 33% saving of non-renewable primary energy demand and 26% reduction in water consumption, we were told. The data is based on Amcor’s ASSET Life Cycle Assessment tool, certified by Carbon Trust.

“OPA/PE and OPA/PEP are currently the dominant packaging materials for flowpack cheese packaging – but these mixed materials are hard to recycle,” a company spokesperson for Amcor told us. “Amcor’s R&D team has developed a mono-PE-based platform that can help companies derive value from their sustainability efforts.”

The AmPrima packaging range for cheese – which is what Saputo Dairy UK uses for its Cathedral City grated cheese - is also treated for thermal stability, allows easy transition on existing filling machines, and has a barrier coating that preserves fresh cheese without a need for an additional oxygen barrier.

“The switch to the new recycle-ready packaging marks a significant milestone for Saputo Dairy UK and the nation’s favourite cheese brand. We’ll continue to strive to offer award-winning solutions like this one in order to progress on our commitment to making 100% of our packaging reusable, recyclable or compostable,” said Neil Richards, Packaging Controller at Saputo Dairy UK. 

Yi Jiang, Marketing Director Dairy at Amcor, added: “The collaboration between both companies addresses some of the biggest challenges facing cheese manufacturers -how to switch to more sustainable packaging that can run on high-speed production lines, while maintaining the same level of product protection and shelf life.

Another dairy industry partnership was also recognized with an award. Polytag and Ocado’s on-pack Digital Deposit Return Scheme (DDRS) was named ‘Innovation of the Year’. The technology was introduced as part of a nine-week trial that saw Polytag’s QR codes applied to fully recyclable two-pint and four-pint milk cartons, with labels featuring recycling information and instructions. In turn, consumers were rewarded with cash incentives for their recycling efforts – the companies reported that the trial saw more than 20,000 Ocado Retail milk bottles scanned by over 3,000 consumers using their smartphones before being deposited into home kerbside recycling. Up to £4,000 worth of rewards were obtained during the trial.

In addition, customer surveys released by Ocado Retail and mobile app provider Bower revealed 93% of the pilot users feel ‘positively’ towards the idea of a DDRS in the UK and 71% of Ocado Retail’s customers said they would be happy to use a QR code to claim a deposit back, while only 58% of respondents showed interest in using a reverse vending machine (RVM).

Alice Rackley, CEO, Polytag, added: “In a world-first initiative with Ocado Retail, we’ve seen the reality of a nationwide DDRS come to realisation. Through cutting edge technology and end-to-end packaging solutions, this project has delivered on what consumers have been asking for. A nationwide, scalable, and viable solution to the recycling crisis that keeps convenience and efficiency in mind.

“Today’s outcome is the result of years of public consultation, technological innovation, and stringent testing working to feed the appetite of consumers for retailers to offer real incentives for recycling. We’re proud to have made this significant mark on the journey to a circular economy and will continue to work closely with our partner brands and retailers to ensure a solution is found that is accessible to all.”

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