Polymer instead of aluminum: Aseptic carton composite from SIG for milk from Austria

Image source: SIG, Unsplash, Montage

Polymer instead of aluminum: Aseptic carton composite from SIG for milk from Austria.

Thomas Reiner | 31.05.2023

The Gmundner Dairy will be the first company in Austria to use an aluminum-free aseptic composite carton from SIG. Instead of the metal, a wafer-thin polymer layer takes over the barrier function. The trend towards replacing aluminum in laminates is thus continuing. The barrier alternatives are becoming more numerous (and better). This pays off in terms of CO2 and climate footprint. In terms of recyclability, however, the alternative barriers still have to prove themselves.



Gmundner Molkerei is Austria’s third-largest dairy and processes around 900,000 liters of raw milk into milk and cheese products every day. As the first milk processing plant in the country, the company has been relying on the 1,000 ml Combibloc Midi from the packaging company SIG for its long-life premium milk since May 2023. The dairy thus sees itself as a pioneer for long-life milk packs without an aluminum layer.


Polymer instead of aluminum

According to Gmundner, 75 percent of the Combibloc Ecoplus packaging material is made of unprocessed cardboard, the fiber material of which comes from wood from FSC-certified forests and other controlled sources.

An ultra-thin polymer layer is used for the barrier, which protects the milk in the packaging from moisture and loss of flavor over a long period of time.


CO2 in focus

The switch from conventional composite board to the aluminum-free alternative is being made under the label of sustainability. Above all, it addresses the aspect of the climate footprint, which currently plays a dominant role in the sustainability debate.

Compared to conventional SIG beverage cartons, the new packaging achieves an average CO2 saving of up to 20 percent per pack at European level, according to the company.


Off into the cycle?

According to the Gmundner Molkerei, the newly used beverage cartons are recyclable. They are to be disposed of via the yellow garbage can or yellow sack “for efficient collection and recycling.”

That sounds good, but the devil is in the details. On the one hand, aluminum, especially as primary aluminum, has a poor energy and thus climate balance (at least as long as the energy does not come from renewable sources). On the other hand, as a monomaterial, aluminum is outstandingly and almost endlessly recyclable. In the composite state, however, this is much more complicated.

The alternative polymer barriers have yet to provide proof of good recyclability in order to compete with the tried-and-tested material in this aspect as well.


The trend is clear

The example of the Gmundner Molkerei shows once again that the trend toward substituting aluminum in composite structures is continuing. Particularly in the area of food products, which have so far relied heavily on aluminum as a barrier in terms of shelf life and taste, successful trials with alternative barriers could lead to a fundamental rethink. The question of the recyclability of polymers in composite packaging remains. However, as an interim solution towards alternative barrier carriers, they are a consistent step.




We love building on your ideas

I’m looking forward to hearing from you

5 + 2 =

Refillable and endlessly recyclable: Molton Brown repackages bodycare products

Image source: Molton Brown

Refillable and endlessly recyclable: Molton Brown repackages bodycare products.

Thomas Reiner | 25.05.2023

London-based beauty label Molton Brown is launching a refillable and, according to the company, endlessly recyclable bottle for its bath and shower gel collection. The new Infinite Bottle is made of recycled aluminum and is said to reduce the plastic footprint by 63 percent compared to previous solutions. The “Infinite Bottle” shows how numerous and consistent brands in the high-end sector in particular are getting on the reusable bandwagon. It is no coincidence that cosmetics and bodycare are leading the way.



Molton Brown is part of the Kao Corporation. The label’s goal is to offer 50 percent of its portfolio in reusable or refillable by 2030. In doing so, it is paying tribute to its parent company’s “Zero Waste Mission” and global ESG strategy.


The Infinite Bottle

  • According to Molton Brown, the new bottle is made from 100 percent recycled aluminum. Compared to virgin aluminum, this means 95 percent of energy use and 83 percent of CO2 emissions can be avoided.
  • Since aluminum can theoretically be recycled any number of times, there is also no limit to how much the bottle can be recycled.
  • The only exception is the bottle pump, which is still made of plastic.
  • The Infinite Bottle can be refilled using the 400-ml refill pouches that Molton Brown offers for its bath and shower gels.
  • Compared to the 100-ml and 300-ml bottles previously used, the new solution reduces plastic usage by 63 percent, according to the company.


Label and secondary packaging

The company has also lent a hand with the label and secondary packaging. Both are made of fiber-based material. Specifically, Molton Brown promises to use 40 percent recycled material and 15 percent fibers from by-products of the food and beverage industry.


The packaging in the Big Picture

The new reusable or refillable packaging is an important element of Molton Brown’s Big Picture. The label sees itself as a pioneer that does not test on animals, is 100 percent vegetarian, uses no parabens and produces entirely in England. Without correspondingly sustainable packaging, it would not be possible to convey this message and communicate it to the outside world.


Reusable for cosmetics and bodycare

Cosmetics and bodycare products such as soaps, creams and deodorants are very well suited to reusable and refillable systems. This is not least because these products and their packaging do not turn over as quickly as food and beverages and have correspondingly longer life cycles.

At present, brands in the high-end segment in particular are still showing themselves to be pioneers in reusable and refillable systems. But it will not remain with these flagships, because reusables are enjoying growing approval across all income classes.

Molton Brown’s claim “Low environmental impact. Pure luxury” is a snapshot. The reusable and refillable train is already running across segments and, driven by consumer demand and regulatory pressure, will soon become an integral part of packaging normality.



We love building on your ideas

I’m looking forward to hearing from you

12 + 7 =

Video game playfully educates consumers about the importance of sustainable packaging

Image source: Unsplash

Video game playfully educates consumers about the importance of sustainable packaging.

Thomas Reiner | 22.05.2023

The northern Italian company BOTTA EcoPackaging wants to educate consumers about the role of sustainable packaging for environmental and climate protection with a video game. The fact that the manufacturer of fiber-based packaging for the B2B sector is relying on gamification is an exciting approach. It has long been clear that consumers want coherent and understandable information on the subject of sustainability and packaging. Relying on a playful approach, digital media and moving images promises to be successful. Because it grips younger target groups in particular intuitively and emotionally. Product advertising included.



The family company BOTTA EcoPackaging has been part of the “Ondulati Maranello” group since 2007. As a B2B company, it produces fiber-based packaging and describes itself as a pioneer in the field of sustainable solutions.


Glass and paper against the ultimate opponent plastic

In the video game, the main character wanders through a polluted environment in the form of a fragile glass bottle and has to avoid enemies in the form of discarded plastic bags. The glass hero gains energy in the form of paper, which is also used for his own protection. The more plastic bags that are “defeated,” the larger the paper armor becomes, which not coincidentally come in the form of BOTTA products “Flexi-Hex Bottle Protection” and “Eco-Single Bottle Pinch Top Box.”


Playful education, advertising and image

The video game is designed to teach consumers about packaging and its role in reducing waste and CO2 emissions in an entertaining and interactive way. At the same time, the company can promote and market some of its key products in an original way – and strengthen its own image as a responsible supplier of sustainable products.


Gamification brings advantages

BOTTA’s video game is anything but “state of the art” in terms of game technology, graphics and complexity. But that’s not the point. Modern, digital and moving image-supported forms of communication and consumer education are particularly good for the packaging sector.


Gamification brings advantages

Of course, the design of the game world with plastic as the final opponent is interest-driven. But the approach of gripping consumers emotionally and addressing them via intuitive, interactive media deserves praise. After all, the need for information and education is there, as numerous studies and surveys have repeatedly shown. Modern media formats can be a key factor here.


We love building on your ideas

I’m looking forward to hearing from you

14 + 6 =

Reusable on the rise: Now Uber Eats is also testing – including pick-up service.

Image source: Unsplash

Reusable on the rise: Now Uber Eats is also testing – including pick-up service.

Thomas Reiner | 11.05.2023

The delivery service giant “Uber Eats” is launching a pilot test with reusable containers in the UK. What makes the test project particularly exciting is the digitally supported return system. Consumers do not have to take the reusable containers to a return point themselves after use, but instead arrange for them to be picked up at their front door. This is (still) unusual and promises two advantages: Short transport distances bring environmental and logistical advantages. In addition, the solution is very efficient and convenient for consumers, which should increase acceptance of the model. Ultimately, this is a key factor for reusable systems. Basically, sooner or later there is no way around reusable. Regulators and the growing pressure of the market will make sure of that.



Uber Eats is launching its pilot project together with cooperation partners in the center of the English capital London. The trial will run for six months with selected restaurants and under the managing auspices of Again. The start-up specializes in the cleaning and logistics of reusable containers and aims to make reusable packaging as affordable, accessible and scalable as disposable packaging.


How it works

Customers order their food as usual via the Uber Eats app. After consumption, the containers are to be roughly cleaned (rinsed). Scanning a QR code on the reusable container can then be used to order free pickup at the front door, with a choice of timing. The earliest option is the following day, the latest after three weeks.


Environmental aspects

The fulfillment of the environmental promise of reusable systems stands and falls not least with the transport effort within logistics. The pilot project also addresses this. On the one hand, only means of transport with a low emissions footprint such as bicycles or e-vehicles are used. In addition, all participating restaurants are located within a 5km radius around the “Again” cleaning center. This is all logical – but at the same time shows the (still) narrow limits of the pilot project.


Focus on acceptance

The focus of the pilot is to test and measure how and whether the acceptance of reusable systems can be increased via the collection of reusable containers at the front door.

Accordingly, Uber Eats and its partners want to test various incentives throughout the trial and determine what motivates customers to embrace reusable packaging in principle (opt-in rate) and what can persuade them to return the packaging (return rate).


Do all roads lead to reusables?

The big picture of the pilot project is the ongoing attempt by regulators in particular to curb the use of single-use packaging and help reusable systems achieve a breakthrough across the board.

For market participants, reusable systems bring a number of challenges, particularly in the area of logistics. Used packaging must be collected, cleaned and disinfected, and delivered for refilling or reuse. Short distances and economical logistics are therefore the crux of the matter.

For consumers, on the other hand, comfort and convenience are a decisive point. Returns must be fast, convenient, and effortless. This is where the Uber Eats pilot project puts an exciting exclamation mark.



The fact that Uber Eats, a major player in the field of online ordering and delivery platforms for food, is turning its attention to the area of reusable food makes it clear that pressure from consumers and increasingly also from regulation is having an effect. Despite all the challenges, reusable will prevail sooner or later. Stakeholders are therefore well advised to explore viable options that satisfy customers and make economic sense at the same time.

We love building on your ideas

I’m looking forward to hearing from you

8 + 11 =

Mars relies on recycled material from chemical recycling. Is this the silver bullet?

Image source: Kindsnacks

Mars relies on recycled material from chemical recycling. Is this the silver bullet?

Thomas Reiner | 26.04.2023

US food company Mars is relying on recyclate derived from chemical recycling for the flexible packaging of its “Kind” snack bar brand. The recyclate, which is processed into certified polypropylene (PP), comes from low-grade used mixed plastics from packaging waste. Mars is thus taking a step toward its goal of using an average of 30 percent recycled material in its packaging by 2025. The fact that it is relying on chemical recycling to achieve this is significant. Because from an ecological point of view, there are definitely question marks here. However, the quality of mechanical recycling does not deliver the necessary food quality in the case of mixed waste. It’s a dilemma – but the pressure of one’s own sustainability goals is overpowering.



Project partners: Mars, Landbell, Sabic

  • The recyclate used from the pyrolysis process is the result of a joint project between Mars Landbell and Sabic, who joined forces in an “innovative recycling project” at the end of 2020.
  • German environmental and waste management specialist Landbell was responsible for collecting the packaging brought in, which was then processed into certified polypropylene (PP) by Saudi Arabian chemical company Sabic.
  • The parties involved speak of a pioneering joint initiative by leading companies from various sectors.


Closing loops

The stated aim of the project partners was (and is) to recycle plastic packaging from the yellow garbage can, which is difficult to recycle and can only be incinerated or recycled at low quality in a mechanical recycling process. To turn it back into food packaging they must rely on chemical recycling. This is referred to as a “high-quality cycle”.


The recyclate – and its production

The certified recyclate is of food quality. According to the company, it is obtained by the so-called pyrolysis process from low-grade, used mixed plastics from packaging waste.

  • In the pyrolysis process, used mixed plastic can be recycled at the molecular level. To do this, the plastic is heated to very high temperatures of around 500 degrees Celsius in an oxygen-free environment and broken down, producing pyrolysis oil.
  • Sabic uses the pyrolysis oil obtained in the same way as a fossil raw material. This makes it possible to create new packaging and products that, according to the company, meet even the most stringent quality requirements, such as those for food packaging.


Chemical recycling the silver bullet?

  • According to the German IK Industrievereinigung Kunststoffverpackungen e.V., European plastics producers plan to invest around €7.2 billion in chemical recycling by 2030. This feat is intended to establish as many marketable processes as possible to complement traditional mechanical recycling.
  • The big goal, according to the IK, is more efficient recycling of plastic waste and tighter recycling of plastics.


Food contact is a sticking point

The recyclate is also needed above all for use in packaging that comes into contact with food. This is because mechanical recycling processes are not capable of producing recyclate from mixed plastics of used packaging derived from household collection that meets the necessary hygiene and quality requirements.


The eco-dilemma

So-called chemical recycling is anything but uncontroversial. Critics point out, and not without good reason, the very high energy input required for the innovative processes. Particularly in view of the current focus on climate issues and greenhouse gas emissions, this is a weighty disadvantage.


The brand dilemma

Mars, like almost all of the major brand companies, has set itself ambitious environmental and sustainability targets. For example, by 2025, an average of 30 percent of the plastic required for all Mars packaging is to come from recycled material.

The path to this goal is extremely difficult, especially in the area of refined plastic packaging. Without recyclate from chemical recycling, it is almost impossible to achieve. At the moment, companies like Mars see no other way out – even if this means possibly paying into one account what you withdraw from the other.


We love building on your ideas

I’m looking forward to hearing from you

15 + 6 =