A Europe-wide life-cycle assessment conducted by Germany-based Institute for Energy and Environmental Research (IFEU) has revealed that carton packs for ultra-high temperature (UHT) milk have a better environmental profile when compared to disposable high-density polyethylene (HDPE) and polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles.
Carton packs in the 1l format, according to the study, generate 34%, 45% less CO2, use 56%, 57% less fossil resources, and consume 30%, 36% less primary energy, compared to HDPE multilayer bottles and disposable PET bottles, respectively.
IFEU said key factors contributing to the carton pack’s positive results include the improved performance of the renewable main raw material and the resource-efficient use of materials, based on the comparative study of the environmental impact of the UHT milk packaging solutions with market relevance in Europe.
Carton packs are already manufactured by around 75% from pulp fibers obtained from wood, which is considered to be a sustainable, completely renewable and bio-based resource.
The environmental institute IFEU, which was commissioned by SIG Combibloc, evaluated all key factors and processes within the life cycles of the various packaging solutions that are important for the product’s environmental performance, in its latest life-cycle assessment.
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 of the beverage and distribution up to the retailing stage, right up to the recycling or disposal of the packaging after use.
The latest study results revealed that the environmental impacts produced by a UHT milk packaging are initially determined by the material from which the packaging is manufactured and the quantity used.