‘No compromise on quality or sustainability’: Amcor opens up on developing recycle-ready packaging for soft cheese

By Teodora Lyubomirova

- Last updated on GMT

"At the time of packaging, soft cheeses have not yet completed the ripening process, therefore, packaging for soft cheese must be able to regulate the exchange of gas and moisture between the product and the outside environment." Image: Getty/ARB
"At the time of packaging, soft cheeses have not yet completed the ripening process, therefore, packaging for soft cheese must be able to regulate the exchange of gas and moisture between the product and the outside environment." Image: Getty/ARB

Related tags Dairy Cheese Packaging Recyclable materials recyclable packaging Recycling

We chat with Amcor’s Laura Delapeyronnie and Fromagerie Milleret’s Chloe Petit on how the two companies partnered to develop a paper-based soft cheese packaging solution that can be processed in existing paper streams.

The new packaging utilizes Amcor’s AmFiber Matrix solution, a mono-material breathable wrap designed to allow for effective cheese ripening while also being ready for recycling in existing paper streams.

DR: Amcor has enjoyed a long partnership with Fromagerie Milleret. How has the company’s packaging demands changed, whether in terms of looking for more sustainable solutions or tailored solutions that are suitable for their specific cheeses?
Laura Delapeyronnie, marketing manager, dairy, at Amcor: Fromagerie Milleret and Amcor have worked closely together on tailored packaging solutions for premium cheeses for over 30 years. We have frequent innovation meetings with Fromagerie Milleret, always focused on addressing key industry challenges. It is this goal that inspired the development of a more sustainable solution that can be recycled in the paper stream. In recent years, Fromagerie Milleret has been a customer of several variations of the Matrix technology [from which AmFiber has evolved, ed.], as it has continued to evolve and advance, until we reached a paper-based version that is also recyclable in the paper stream.

DR: How difficult is it to replace foil with alternative materials – particularly recyclable ones - when it comes to developing packaging for soft cheese?
LD: The development of a recycle-ready paper wrap is the result of a long and involved process by Amcor’s research and development team. The soft cheese industry is one of the most technical sectors we work in, due to the key role that packaging plays in refining the quality of premium soft cheeses.

At the time of packaging, soft cheeses have not yet completed the ripening process, therefore, packaging for soft cheese must be able to regulate the exchange of gas and moisture between the product and the outside environment.

In order to not interfere with this highly technical process, and impact the quality, taste and texture of the product, Amcor have worked in close collaboration with Fromagerie Milleret to address this challenge and develop a solution that makes no compromise on quality or sustainability.

DR: Does this new packaging affect shelf-life compared to more traditional solutions? Is the packaging biodegradable as well as recyclable?
Chloe Petit, export manager at Fromagerie Milleret: Part of the involved development process was ensuring that the shelf-life of the product was also not compromised. The new packaging guarantees the same performance in shelf-life as the previous solution. The packaging is not biodegradable, however it contains 85% paper material to achieve recycle-readiness.

DR: What packaging did Fromagerie Milleret use before switching to this new variant?
CP: Before the switch, Fromagerie Milleret was using a precedent paper solution for its L’Ortolan line of premium cheeses. Our challenge was that this packaging did not meet the paper proportion necessary for recyclability in paper streams. In adopting Amcor’s AmFiber Matrix solution, we have improved the sustainability of our product. These improvements enhance the customer experience and moves Fromagerie Milleret further towards our sustainability goals.

DR: How long did it take you to develop this packaging product? What were some of the R&D challenges that you had to overcome?
LD: Since the launch of the first Matrix solution in 2015, named Duplex, Amcor has been engineering new ways to improve the technology and address key industry challenges. The realization of a recycle-ready solution was accelerated in 2018 when Amcor made a pledge to develop all of its packaging to be recyclable or reusable by 2025. That same year, Amcor’s R&D team began work on a mono-material Matrix solution that would be recycle-ready for paper streams around the world. The main challenges for R&D were the choice of the raw materials, of the manufacturing processes, which needed to enable the packaging to have a permeability level which would fit our customer’s product requirements. Our teams also had to ensure that the product was recycle-ready through different tests.

DR: Besides soft cheese, what other food applications is your AmFiber Matrix material suitable for?
LD: The Matrix technology has been designed specifically for the technical requirements of soft cheese packaging. However, forming part of Amcor’s wider AmFiber portfolio, the Matrix solution is one of many paper-based options that Amcor offers for use in a variety of product segments including healthcare, snacks and confectionary, meat, and home and personal care. We have focused on extending the AmFiber portfolio to offer products and applications that require a more sustainable and easy to recycle solution.

DR: What is the cost of the recyclable packaging versus traditional solutions – is there a significant price premium?
LD: The cost of the new recycle-ready Matrix solution is comparable to the previous version that Fromagerie Milleret were using. Of course, each use-case is specific to the customer’s needs and depends on factors such as volume and technical requirements.

DR: In your experience, are recycle-ready solutions like yours starting to become more mainstream - or is this still a niche product?
LD: The use-cases of Amcor’s MonoMatrix solution are growing in France, and abroad. We expect to see recycle-ready packaging become the standard in soft-cheese packaging, as producers commit to their own sustainability roadmaps and targets.

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