UHT milk carton packs have a better environmental profile than disposable high-density polyethylene (HDPE) and polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles, according to a Europe-wide life-cycle assessment.
The study, conducted at the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research (IFEU) in Germany, found that one litre carton packs generate 34% less CO2, use 56% less fossil resources, and consume 30% less primary energy than HDPE multilayer bottles.
When compared to disposable PET bottles, carton packs generate 45% less CO2, use 57% less fossil resources and 36% less primary energy.
Contributing to the carton pack's positive results are the improved performance of the renewable main raw material and the resource-efficient use of materials.
The study, which was commissioned by SIG Combibloc, found that carton packs use significantly fewer fossil resources than HDPE and PET bottles because they are made up of about 75% pulp fibres obtained from wood, which is considered to be a sustainable, completely renewable and bio-based resource.
For the assessment, the institute evaluated all key factors and processes within the life cycles of the milk packages that are important for the product's environmental performance.
Beginning with the extraction and refining of the raw material used to make the packaging, the study covered the processes of manufacturing and transporting the finished packages, the packaging and distribution up to the retailing stage, on to the recycling or disposal of the packaging after its use.
Image: The type of raw materials and the resource-efficient use of materials contribute to carton packs' positive results. Photo: SIG Combibloc.