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August 8, 2019

Study reveals single-use beverage cartons more eco-friendly than PET

A new environmental lifecycle assessment (LCA) has revealed that single-use beverage cartons offer more environmental advantages when compared to alternative forms of packaging.

A new environmental lifecycle assessment (LCA) has revealed that single-use beverage cartons offer more environmental advantages when compared to alternative forms of packaging.

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The study was conducted by the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research (IFEU) to meet the new German Federal Environment Agency (UBA ) requirements for beverage packaging life cycle assessments in the country.

The LCA also identified that the beverage cartons perform better than reusable glass bottles in the fresh milk market segment, while both cartons and reusable glass bottles perform better than polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles for fresh milk, juice and UHT milk.

The study also noted that beverage cartons format is advantageous in areas where no re-usable system is installed.

According to the study, the climate impact of cartons is 78% lower than reusable glass bottles for fresh milk, 37% lower than reusable glass bottles for fruit juices and 71% lower than no reusable PET bottles for UHT milk.

On an average, beverage cartons are being made using nearly 75% renewable materials in the country.

IFEU scientific director Benedikt Kauertz said: “IFEU supported the UBA in developing its minimum requirements for LCAs for beverage packaging.

“The study commissioned by FKN is the first to implement these requirements and adopt such a robust approach. The results show that beverage cartons for milk and juice are advantageous compared with single use PET bottles.

“For milk, beverage cartons are even better than the reference system, reusable glass bottles, and for juices, cartons perform on a par with the reference system. For UHT milk, where no reusable packaging option is available, beverage cartons perform better than the single-use PET bottle alternative.”

The LCA study was commissioned by the German Beverage Carton Association in an effort to support informed decisions on packaging by food producers, consumers and policymakers.

UBA critically reviewed the results of the study.

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Is dissolvable packaging the future?

Dissolvable packaging is designed to replace conventional plastic bags, films, labels, and pouches. This end-of-life solution is non-toxic and leaves no trace of microplastics. Upstream innovation means this packaging 'designs out' the waste often associated with plastic bags, and also means consumers are not forced to deal with finding a solution to plastic waste. Use our Foresights report to understand the future of dissolvable packaging, and formulate winning strategies for the road ahead. This report covers:
  • Drawbacks and advantages to dissolvable packaging
  • Current industry applications
  • Consumer insight into priorities surrounding sustainability and packaging
  • The pathway and considerations for dissolvable packing in terms of mass adoption and commercialization
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