Better climate and less waste

Sustainable packaging

Making our packaging materials more sustainable, both when it comes to reducing CO2 emissions and designing the packaging to be recyclable, isn’t a new focus for us. We’ve been working on this for a long time. 

We produce billions of food products each year, all of which require protection in the form of packaging. It is important that we consider how the packaging affects the environment. We work together with our suppliers, researchers and key customers to continuously reduce the environmental impact of our packaging, for example, by increasing the share of renewable materials and developing packaging that is recyclable.

Big moves

Rich back catalogue

We have a rich back catalogue of moves that have made our packaging better for the environment over the years. Past initiatives have included weight reductions, switching to bio-based plastics, incorporating recycled materials and replacing greenhouse gas intensive materials.

Our next big move is to make over one billion pieces of packaging more sustainable across Europe, including making 600 million fresh milk cartons renewable and 500 million yoghurt pots recyclable and cutting carbon emissions.

We are reducing CO2

We reduce CO2 emissions from our packaging by using less fossil based plastic and more renewable sources.

Our focus is first and foremost to use less material, while still protecting the food and providing the functionality consumers ask for.

Secondly, our focus is to shift to materials with a lower CO2 footprint.

We are increasing recyclability

Our packaging is to be recyclable in the core markets in which it is sold and to contain more recycled material – we are aiming for 100 per cent recyclability by 2025.

We are continually improving the design of our packaging, so it can go through waste handling systems where our consumers live, which in turn helps them contribute to a more circular flow of plastic in society.

The Packaging Dilemma

Our aim to make packaging more sustainable isn’t easy to achieve. We need to make sure the packaging continues to protect the food and maintain its quality and freshness to avoid food waste. We won’t compromise on this. At the same time, to make the necessary changes we rely on technological developments, being able to source the right material in the right place at the right time and we need governments and local authorities to put the systems and policies in place that allow consumers and us to reuse, recycle and reduce the amount of packaging circulating in society.

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We have already achieved our environmental strategy 2020 goal of reducing the climate impact from packaging by 25 per cent from a 2005-baseline, equating to 123,000 tonnes less CO2.

But there is much more we can do. In line with our overall ambition to become Carbon Net Zero by 2050 we are also extending and stepping up our sustainability goals for packaging.

Three ways to improved packaging

Our guiding principles

  • In order to achieve our goal of Carbon Net Zero, Arla aims to be fossil free in the future. This requires a shift away from fossil coal, oil and gas to renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, biogas and other biofuels. For packaging this requires a shift to renewable sources such as paper fibres and bio plastics.
  • Circular economy principles shift our way of thinking and operating from a linear model to a cyclical model, focusing on reusing and recycling while reducing waste and unnecessary resource use. This applies to packaging just as well as our milk, water use, and the carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus cycles. 
  • To achieve our goals and targets, it is critical to rethink the way we work and form strong cooperation throughout the entire value chain as well as across value chains. Arla cannot achieve ambitions alone. We need to rely on the cooperative spirit — working together with researchers and scientists, as well as suppliers and customers to find new technologies and solutions to lead the future of sustainable dairy.