WorldStar Award 2022 for 100% r-PET school milk packaging

Closing the loop for school milk cups

145
milk packaging
Children at Upper Austria’s kindergartens and schools can now enjoy their dairy products during recess in lightweight r-PET cups, which are kept in a closed loop. Photo Greiner Packaging

In the new year, the World Packaging Organisation has announced the winners of the WorldStar Awards 2022. Among the winners is a joint project between Austria’s school milk producers and three Upper Austrian companies (PET-MAN, Greiner Packaging, and Starlinger Viscotec), which involved producing sustainable cups from 100% r-PET to be filled with school milk for the state of Upper Austria.

Sustainability and a closed-loop for plastics are front and center as we move into the new year. Since last spring, used school milk cups made from PET have been collected separately so that they could be recycled in a dedicated closed loop. And shortly before Christmas, this loop was closed for the first time. Used school milk cups collected before the fall were shredded, washed, recycled, and new r-PET cups were made from the material. The first crates containing freshly recycled r-PET cups have already been delivered to the school milk producers.

Flagship project for a circular economy

The flagship project proves that a circular economy is possible in the plastics and packaging industries. And the solution has now received a WorldStar Award 2022 in light of this accomplishment. The awards have been running since 1970 and are highly coveted, with 440 submissions from 37 countries around the world vying for the World Packaging Organisation’s stamp of approval. 

milk packaging
The Mayr-Miesenberger family is delighted to receive their first delivery of r-PET cups from the second loop, which will be filled with their school milk. Photo Greiner Packaging

After picking up a Trigos and a Green Packaging Star Award in 2021, the project partners are proud to have their work recognized a third time with the WorldStar Award 2022. “It really is great to see our efforts receive this level of acknowledgment. For us, sustainability is not just a catchphrase – it is a duty we take very seriously. Thanks to the project, as well as doing our part to advance sustainability in general, children can be taught to treat nature responsibly from a young age,” says Manfred Stanek, CEO of Greiner Packaging. Johannes Strobl, who represents the Upper Austrian school milk producers, is also delighted, “The feedback I have received from the school milk producers is that the schools are excited about the project. They appreciate the fact that the used r-PET cups really are made into new cups.” Starlinger Viscotec is also convinced that r-PET is the ideal choice for food packaging: “Our vision is to have a process in place for collecting and recycling packaging made from white r-PET,” says Herbert Hofbauer. “After all, used cups are a valuable material.”

Making cups from cups

The concept behind the sustainable packaging sounds simple enough, yet it is a unique proposition. Austria’s school milk producers supply schools and kindergartens directly with dairy products in r-PET cups. The children consume the drinks during recess, then the used cups are gathered and returned for recycling to the school milk producers. Once collected, these cups are picked up from the farm, washed, and shredded. The resulting flakes are then cleaned and processed. As was the case for the first time before Christmas, the extruded plastic sheet is subsequently used at Greiner Packaging to thermoform new r-PET cups, which are then refilled by the farmers and delivered once again to schools and kindergartens. This closed loop releases over 30% less CO2 than reusable glass bottles, which are significantly heavier. Recycling the cups also requires less energy than processing reusable glassware, for instance, and produces less waste. The reason the cups can be recycled so easily is that they are unprinted and made from 100% monomaterial.

r-PET: material of the future

The recycling loop for r-PET makes it a material with a promising future. And as things stand, recycled PET is the only post-consumer secondary plastic approved for food applications in the EU. The white r-PET packaging can be reprocessed into food packaging, making it the ideal recyclable packaging solution for dairy products. Technology – thermoforming; decoration – non; and, material –  r-PET. For further information about the r-PET school milk cup, please visit www.rPET-cup.com.

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the country-wide lockdown on 25 March 2020. It will be two years tomorrow as I write this. What have we learned in this time? Maybe the meaning of resilience since small companies like us have had to rely on our resources and the forbearance of our employees as we have struggled to produce our trade platforms.

The print and packaging industries have been fortunate, although the commercial printing industry is still to recover. We have learned more about the digital transformation that affects commercial printing and packaging. Ultimately digital will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future.

Web analytics show that we now have readership in North America and Europe amongst the 90 countries where our five platforms reach. Our traffic which more than doubled in 2020, has at times gone up by another 50% in 2021. And advertising which had fallen to pieces in 2020 and 2021, has started its return since January 2022.

As the economy approaches real growth with unevenness and shortages a given, we are looking forward to the PrintPack India exhibition in Greater Noida. We are again appointed to produce the Show Daily on all five days of the show from 26 to 30 May 2022.

It is the right time to support our high-impact reporting and authoritative and technical information with some of the best correspondents in the industry. Readers can power Packaging South Asia’s balanced industry journalism and help sustain us by subscribing.

– Naresh Khanna

Subscribe Now

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here