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Arla Foods, new fiber-based caps from Scandinavia.

Danish dairy cooperative's green revolution involves Blue Ocean Closures (Alpla)

Speaking of sustainability, we cannot fail to pay attention to what is happening outside our national borders, where green initiatives are multiplying far more than at home. One example is Arla Foods, an international cooperative based in Viby, Denmark and the seventh largest dairy company in the world. The company is partnering with Swedish start-up Blue Ocean Closures (partly owned by Alpla, a global plastic packaging company) to create a fiber-based cap for its milk cartons.

The initiative starts in the markets of Denmark, Sweden and the Netherlands, where Arla uses its milk cartons. The caps are made from sustainably sourced Fsc fiber material combined with a thin barrier coating. They use advanced vacuum forming technology and are bio-based, biodegradable and recyclable like paper. According to the company, this may be the first time in the dairy industry that such an innovation has been introduced: if implemented, they say, it would reduce the company's plastic consumption by more than 500 tons per year.

With about 23% of plastic used in its cartons, the farmer-owned cooperative is focusing on eliminating the use of fossil-based virgin plastic in its packaging by 2030, just starting with carton caps. "Improving our packaging, including reducing the use of plastic, is imperative for us, and we know that consumers are also very interested in this area -emphasizes commercial director Peter Giørtz-Carlsen-. This project to explore what could be the first fiber-based cap on milk cartons is very exciting and shows that we at Arla are constantly trying to improve and lead the transformation of sustainable packaging."

Adds Lars Sandberg, ceo of Blue Ocean Closures, "By increasing fiber content, the solution will increase recyclability, starting in Scandinavia and paving the way for global change". 

With funding from Arla Foods, the plan is to develop a fully functional prototype and complete the testing phase by early next year. The only downside to Arla's initiative appears to come from consumers: in fact, the new path taken is said to have been criticized by consumers "dissatisfied with the loss of convenience."

"We know that consumers value convenience: but if we have to have a cap on green, we want to create one that is as good as possible, and that is what we are doing now," Giørtz-Carlsen concludes.

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EFA News - European Food Agency