Milk comes in many forms of packaging. We are now increasingly seeing it in PET bottles on supermarket shelves. A good idea? Of course it is!
Milk is currently available in glass bottles or composite cartons. Glass, whether it’s reusable or disposable, is only sustainable as packaging at first glance. To produce it, melting temperatures of over 1,000°C are required. This means very high energy consumption. Cleaning of reusable bottles also uses a lot of water and energy. Transport is also energy-intensive. To package the same volume of liquid securely, glass must be around 10 times the weight of PET. And it’s worth pointing out that glass is fragile, and shards can cause injury.
Composite cartons have a recycling problem
In the case of composite cartons, they are significantly lighter in terms of packaging weight. The cartons can also be stacked easily due to their rectangular shape. However, one thing that the milk packaging is not is easily recyclable. The material consists of several layers of aluminium and plastic film as well as a decreasing amount of paper. These materials can be separated during recycling, but this is a difficult and expensive process.
PET is the more advanced material
The better option in terms of safety and sustainability is therefore milk bottles made from recyclable PET. Plastic bottles fares better than the most glass packaging in terms of its energy and carbon footprint. As part of this, plastic bottles should be reused as often as possible based on the bottle-to-bottle principle. Film, clothing and sports goods can also be made out of PET in its second service life. And even at the end of its life cycle, PET is sustainable. Through thermal utilisation of the material, it can be used to generate electricity or heat.
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