Arla dairy co-op looks to ditch the plastic in its carton tops

The switch would reduce Arla’s plastic consumption by more than 500 tonnes a year

Farmer-owned dairy co-op Arla Foods is joining forces with Swedish sustainability start-up Blue Ocean Closures to create the first fibre-based milk carton caps. 

Arla’s current caps make up around 23% of the plastic used in its cartons, and it says the switch to a fibre-based material would reduce the co-op’s annual plastic consumption by more than 500 tonnes.

The bio-based cap produced by Blue Ocean Closures consists of sustainably sourced FSC material and a thin barrier coating, which is recyclable as paper.

Lars Sandberg, CEO at Blue Ocean Closures, said: “We are delighted to work with Arla, acting as a frontrunner to create a real difference in packaging sustainability. With increased fibre content, the solution will increase recyclability, starting in Scandinavia and paving the way for global change.”

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Arla uses milk cartons in several markets including Denmark, Sweden and Netherlands. It has previously experimented with different ways to reduce the plastic in its packaging as part of the co-op’s strategy to eliminate use of fossil-based virgin plastic in its packaging by 2030.

In 2020, Arla removed the cap from its Danish organic range, a move it says was met with criticism from consumers, due to the loss of convenience.

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“We know that consumers like the convenience a cap provides and while we have removed the cap completely from some of our ranges, we acknowledge this need and want to provide a choice for consumers. But if we have to have a cap, we want to create the best possible one and that is what we are doing now”, says Peter Giørtz-Carlsen, chief commercial officer at Arla Foods.

Arla is now funding the development of a fully functional prototype and plans to complete the testing phase by the start of next year.