Danone digging deep for ‘greener’ packaging
One innovation often deserves another—especially when it comes to healthy new products such as drinkable yogurt beverages produced by Danone Inc., whose refreshing new packaging redesign for its hot-selling single-serve plastic containers is breathing new life into its far-flung packaging sustainability and carbon-footprint reduction efforts.
Produced at the company’s state-of-the-art production facility in Boucherville, Que., the plastic 100-ml containers used to package Danone’s flagship brands of drinkable yogurt products have been undergoing an extensive makeover following recent introduction of so-called “expansion” process to produce the mini-sized bottles—resulting in 18-percent weight reduction for the single-serve packages of the Activia, Stonyfield, Silhouette and Creamy brands.
Introduced as part of the parent company Danone Group’s ambitious pledge to reduce its global carbon footprint by 30 per cent by 2012, the innovative “expansion” process—developed by the Clayton, Mo.-based Plastics processing group Spartech Corporation—is based on adding an inert agent inside polystyrene plastic to form a thin layer of lightweight foam in the polystyrene—thereby reducing the overall density of the plastic, according to Danone Canada’s external communications manager Anne-Julie Maltais.
“To date, we’ve applied this packaging process to over 40 per cent our individual-serving yogurts, and we are targeting complete integration by June 2011,” says Maltais.
In addition, the “expansion” process is perfectly compatible with the new range of HDPE (high-density polyethylene) made from the fully-renewable sugar cane harvested in Brazilian plantations and processed into bioplastic polymers there by that country’s leading petrochemicals producer Braskem, and later converted into HDPE film at Spartech’s Canadian facility in Granby, Que.
“In spite of the fact that it generates additional manufacturing costs for the company, Danone will adopt this 100-percent recyclable bioplastic gradually to achieve complete integration by the end of 2011,” says Maltais, citing an expected 55-percent carbon-footprint reduction for single-serve packages of the DanActive, Danacol, Danino Go and Drinkable Activia brands that have been switched over to the more eco-sensitive HDPE option to date.
Says Maltais: “The packaging for Danone products accounts for 40 per cent of our company’s ecological footprint, and is the second most important factor in terms of emissions.
“That’s why we have devoted such efforts in research-and-development to using ‘greener’ packaging alternatives, despite the added cost.”