Finnish dairy firm claims 'world first' with use of bio-based carton pack

Valio, a Finnish dairy company, has claimed that it has become the first company in the world to sell products to consumers in carton packaging made entirely from plant-based materials.

Tetra Rex Bio-based cartons are made from a combination of plastics derived from plants and paperboard

Tetra Rex Bio-based cartons are made from a combination of plastics derived from plants and paperboard

The package, Tetra Rex Bio-based, is manufactured solely from a combination of plastics derived from plants and paperboard. It is produced by packaging firm Tetra Pak.

In Tetra Rex Bio-based cartons, the low-density polyethylene (LDPE) used to create the laminate film for the packaging material and the neck of the opening, together with the high density polyethylene used for the cap, are all derived from sugar cane.

According to Tetra Pak, these plastics, like the Forest Stewardship CouncilTM (FSCTM) certified paperboard, are traceable to their origins. There are no aluminium layers within the pack and all the bio-based cartons can be recycled.

Now on shelves
Shoppers will be able to buy these packages at retail shops in Finland from this week - making it the only package of its kind to be available on retail shelves anywhere in the world, according to Tetra Pak.

Valio will trial the package with Valio Eila lactose free semi-skimmed milk drink in retail outlets across Finland until mid March, and will then use feedback from consumers to decide whether to adopt the cartons more broadly across its chilled product range.

Valio marketing director Elli Sitala said: "Valio is committed to increasing the share of renewable resources in its packaging material.

"We share a common vision of innovation and environmental responsibility with Tetra Pak and we are proud to be the first in the world to make our products available in a fully renewable carton package."

The products will be available in one-litre capacity Tetra Rex Bio-based packages, with a TwistCap OSO 34 opening. They will be produced at Valio's Jyväskylä dairy in Finland, using a standard Tetra Pak TR/28 filling machine.

A Tetra Pak spokesman told that the Tetra Rex Bio-based cartons are available to its European customers. However, no UK brands currently use the packs.

'Fully-renewable concept'
Tetra Pak executive vice president of product management and commercial operations Charles Brand said: "We have been gradually increasing the use of renewable materials in our packages over the years, and that work will continue, as we look for ways to extend the fully-renewable concept to other parts of our portfolio without compromising safety, quality or functionality."

Last year, Tetra Pak announced that all of the packages it produces in Brazil use bio-based low-density polyethylene (LDPE). The Brazilian packages use two layers of conventional plastic, a layer of aluminium, one layer of bio-based plastic, paperboard and a final layer of bio-based plastic.

By contrast, the new version of the Tetra Rex is a chilled package (it needs to live in the fridge) - this means that it doesn't have a layer of aluminium and additionally all plastic in the Tetra Rex is bio-based. According to Tetra Pak, this is why it is positioned as "fully renewable".

Liz Gyekye
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