Finnish dairy firm Valio will switch to tethered caps for its drinkable products as it seeks to comply with the requirements of the EU single-use plastics directive.
The directive aims to reduce the amount of plastic waste, especially on ocean beaches, and promote a circular economy.
The change requires the caps of any beverage pack of up to three litres to remain attached to the carton, Valio noted.
It will impact a host of Valio’s liquid product containers, such as milk, cream, sour milk, cooking creams, smoothies, porridges and berry soups.
The first batch of tethered caps in Valio’s packaging will be rolled out in the first half of 2023.
The company hopes to implement necessary changes by the July 2024 deadline set in the directive.
'Preparation And Planning'
Jussi-Pekka Lumme, packaging development manager at Valio said, "The change has required a lot of preparation and planning, both internally and with our packaging suppliers. The change will lead to equipment investments at our factories, depending on the type of packaging.
"From the recyclability perspective, we believe that it is very important for all recyclable materials – including plastics caps – to be recycled and reused. This will also help to ensure that plastic caps are collected and will not end up in the environment."
Surveys conducted by Valio among Finnish consumers found that many respondents do not prefer see an end to packages with caps, like milk cartons.
Lumme added, "There are advantages to a package that can be sealed tight with a cap: it is readily portable, and it can be stored on its side in a refrigerator. All Valio gable-topped milk, sour milk, cream and yoghurt products sold in Finland, including their caps, are made from 100% renewable raw materials.
"The plastic parts of the packaging are not fossil-based; they are made from bioethanol, a by-product of the sugarcane industry. Also, the traditional pourable carton is still functional, and many prefer this alternative."
The shift to the new packaging will also involve changing the recycling instructions on milk cartons, Valio noted.
Packaging, including the cap, will be recycled with carton recycling with plastic separated from the carton board at the recycling plant.
The carton packaging is soaked during the recycling process. As a result, the cardboard sinks, and the plastic rises to the surface, which is then separated.
Valio’s head of packaging development, Juhana Pilkama said, "We encourage consumers to recycle all packaging correctly. For instance, we have added easy-to-find, plain-language recycling instructions to our packaging.
"Recycling all parts of the packaging conserves natural resources and reduces the use of virgin plastic. It is estimated that the use of recycled plastic reduces a package's carbon footprint by 40%–60% compared to a product made from non-recycled, fossil-based plastic.”
Valio aims to make all packaging 'recycle-ready' by the end of 2025.
© 2023 European Supermarket Magazine – your source for the latest packaging news. Article by Dayeeta Das. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: European Supermarket Magazine.