EUROPE – The Finnish dairy products manufacturer, Valio has said that it has moved to 100% plant-based cartons for its milk, sour milk, cream and yogurt sold in Finland.

This is in line with the set goal to achieve 100% plant-based carton packaging for all of its gable top milk, sour milk, cream and yoghurt by the end of 2018.

The company started using plant based cartons in 2015, a strategic initiative to enhance more environment smart package solutions and reduce its carbon footprint on the universe.

Valio targets to reduce CO2 emissions by 3,140 tonnes every year by using cartons whose cardboard and plastic parts are all made of plant-based materials.

The renewable plastic used to make the caps and to line the carton is made from plant ethanol, which is a side flow of the sugarcane industry.

A thin layer of plastic is, however used to promote the shelf life of the milk and make it stay fresh for a long time.

Aiming for carbon-neutral milk

Valio first introduced the milk cartons made from fully plant-based, renewable material for the company’s organic Valio Luomu™ milk products in 2015.

The company now aims to reduce the environmental impacts of packaging, milk production and during the transportation of raw milk and finished products.

In a strategy to ensure a carbon-neutral milk chain, Valio in collaboration with Baltic Sea Action Group will initiate training for dairy farms on carbon farming starting in the spring of 2019.

The farms will be taught new ways to bind carbon to the soil and to share existing good farming practices while the energy cow manure can also be used to replace fossil fuels in the future.

Valio aims towards making all of its gable top cartons out of renewable plant-based material.

The company said plans are underway to make plant-based juice cartons which will utilize a thin layer of special plastic that protects the vitamin C in the juice.

“Development of the juice carton plastic layer has gone well, and we will be able to produce nearly 100% plant-based juice cartons as soon as this year.

Our goal is to be smart about reducing our total environmental effect: the right kinds of packages protect the products and prevent food waste, and plant-based packaging reduces the products’ carbon footprint.

We are also increasing our use of recycled raw material, and encourage consumers to recycle our packaging correctly,” said Valio’s packaging development manager Tanja Virtanen-Leppa.

Valio Sweden has also changed its yoghurt cartons to plant-based packages with plans to expand the range.