What does it mean to have plant-based packaging?
All of Valio’s gabled milk, sour milk, cream and yoghurt cartons are fully plant-based: the cardboard is made from wood, and the thin plastic film that protects the products is made from the sugarcane industry’s waste, i.e. surplus plant parts. Even the caps are fully plant-based. It’s possible, therefore, to make plastic out of a plant – the same way biofuels are made. The caps are recycled with plastic, and the cartons with cardboard.
There are a lot of different types of plastic, and the variety of recycling instructions is confusing. If I accidentally put the wrong type of plastic into the recycling, does that ruin the entire recyclable load?
Don’t worry! All recycled plastic is sorted carefully and checked for material. Sorting machines handle possible mistakes and adds to the cost, but that is the lesser of two evils compared to throwing all your plastic in mixed waste. In other words, you don’t need to worry if you occasionally put something in the wrong recycling bin.
What kind of advice do you have for people who are just beginning to recycle?
Start with what’s easiest, like cardboard, paper, or metal package recycling. Then expand to more types – soon you’ll notice that you’re recycling most of your waste. Mother nature will thank you!
What’s most interesting to you about packaging development?
Creating new solutions that not only help people in their everyday lives, but also keep the environment in mind is what’s really interesting. No two workdays are alike, and I learn new things all the time. What’s important is to move in the right direction, to go forward. I have been a part of all kinds of projects in my years at Valio. It is the challenging projects that are most memorable to me, such as the easy to open and reopen cheese packages, recycled plastic triangle packages for cheeses, the ice cream relaunch, and, of course, the launch of the all new Valio MiFU® meat-free product family.
What do you consider to be Valio’s most important packaging development goal?
Our most important goal is to reduce food loss and promote a circular economy, such as using more recycled plastic in our packages. Reducing the amount of packaging material, using more renewable, non-fossil materials, and increased ease of use for the packages are also important. And, of course, serving our consumers with delicious products in packaging that looks good and is easy to use.
What could Valio still develop in its package designs?
Everything! Even though we are in a good place with our packaging, there are still improvements to be made everywhere. We will try to make lives better by adding easier-to-understand recycling instructions to the packages, for example. We introduced a wood-and-plastic biocomposite lid in January 2020. It can be machine-washed and reused, which reduces the need for plastic lids.
Can you tell us anything about Valio’s next big thing?
We are constantly planning all kinds of things, but one of our especially large projects has to do with Valio’s endeavour towards carbon-neutral milk by 2035. In packaging, that goal is supported by our 50-percent recycled plastic packaging for sliced cheese. That will be introduced in 2020.