There has been a heap of effort and thought that's gone into our packaging, almost as much as the contents inside! For over 6 months, we worked with Go Well Consulting in search of a suitable retail packaging solution.
Spoiler alert: we discovered that the perfect packaging solution simply doesn’t exist in NZ - that was certainly an intriguing plot twist.
In the end, we settled for LPB (Liquid paperboard packaging) as our vessel of choice, commonly known as Tetra Pak. Our supplier of this packaging is Elopak. As you can see, there are a number of things that make this pack not just any old pack.
• Lowest carbon footprint of all packaging systems (incl PET & rPET). **
• 0% fossil fuels & petro-chemical plastics.
• Made from 89% renewable plant-based materials
• Made using 100% renewable energy
** Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) undertaken by third party thinkstep-anz: Read more here
Renewable plastic cap & plastic lining
(21%) To prevent leakage and ensure sterile conditions we require a plastic lid & lining. However, this plastic is made from tall oil, which is a by-product of the process that turns the wood into fibre (that is used to make our cartons). So yes, it is free of fossil fuels.
(75%) Provides strength and shape. From legal and acceptable sources - FSC certified.
(4%) Protects from light and oxygen.
Ok, so you might be thinking this is all great but what about recycling? And, that's a great question! Unfortunately, this is the one area we have struggled with, (for more info on this, go here).
However, being able to recycle something doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a better choice: What the packaging is made of, where those materials come from, and their respective impacts are all factors that matter e.g. cutting down trees and pulling fossil fuels out of the ground (@plastic, we are looking at you)!
The impact that packaging has on the supply chain also matters e.g. if the packaging is heavy, it requires more energy to transport and generates more emissions (at least until we have an all-electric transport system powered by renewable energy!). If packs don’t fit well into delivery vehicles, are fragile or need to be refrigerated the whole time, more energy and emissions are created again. The precious m!lky cargo must be shelf stable during this time and maintain optimal quality, but not to the detriment of the environment.
Let’s not forget our health either – having a carton with an excellent food safety record is incredibly important too, and not all packaging is made equal when it comes to this aspect.
Due to all of these factors (and more!), LPB packaging has the lowest carbon footprint over its entire lifestyle compared to all other options available to us, including PET and even recycled (rPET) bottles. We have the confidence that with a little time, we’ll be able to overcome this final recycling hurdle so that our packaging meets the mark on all counts.
But hang on, what about reusable options?
While we agree that reusable packaging is a great option, if we are to create the genuine scale of change that we seek both in NZ and around the world, then we need an easily exportable and transportable packaging type. Never fear though, incorporating reusables into our operations is something on our radar and something we continue to look into.
The packaging we source doesn’t just stop at the cartons that our milk comes in. We also use cardboard boxes to package and deliver our case of 6 cartons. These boxes have FSC Mix certification as ‘packaging from responsible sources’.
To provide protection and ease of transport for orders of 2 cases (12 x cartons) and 3 cases (18 x cartons), we use a cardboard box supplied by Production Partners that is PEFC certified as being made of 100% and 78% recycled material respectively.
Cardboard boxes are accepted by all kerbside recycling collections in Aotearoa.
For large orders of our cases that are transported on ships and trucks, we are reliant on the packaging systems of our supply partners who currently use plastic wrap and reusable wooden pallets. It is our desire to switch to a reusable pallet wrap alternative.