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Woolworths launches first plant-based milk bottle

| Innovation and technology

Woolworths has announced the launch of an innovative green milk bottle consisting of 30% plant-based plastic, a first for the dairy industry in South Africa. The entire Woolworths fresh milk range will now be packaged in the new plant-based bottles, giving consumers the opportunity to enjoy milk today with tomorrow in mind.

This latest milestone on the Woolworths Good Business Journey has been made possible through innovations in polymer production by Braskem, one of the world’s largest biopolymer producers, based in Brazil.  World leaders in the production of bio fuel from sugar cane, Brazil is now also leading the way in the production of bio based plastic. How? By replacing non-renewable fossil based polymers with a plant-based alternative.  Following the same plastic production process, the plant-based polyethylene is chemically and structurally exactly the same as conventional polyethylene.  Due to this, it provides exactly the same quality, protection when used in food packaging, and can be seamlessly mixed with a regular fossil-fuel alternative.  This means our new bottle remains 100% recyclable.

“As a leader in innovations that lead to greater sustainability, Woolworths is constantly exploring and considering emerging technologies that will help to reduce our carbon footprint, especially when it comes to packaging,” says Justin Smith, the Woolworths Group Head of Sustainability. “However, the launch of our green milk bottle is more than just improving packaging -by bringing this innovation to South Africa, Woolworths is also providing vital support to a developing industry that is replacing the non-renewable fossil feedstock in regular plastic production with a renewable plant-based alternative.  This has the potential to transform plastic from a material that is currently causing climate change to one that helps mitigate it.”

We are very reliant on plastic, especially when it comes to packaging.  However, sheer volumes and disposability result in plastic being a major environmental concern.  There are many efforts focused on finding alternative, environmentally-friendly materials or plastic recycling innovations.  But this is not the limit of where our efforts should rest.  Braskem is distinguishing itself as a forerunner in determining the ways to produce more environmentally-friendly plastics because they are plant-based.

Irrigated largely by rainfall and capturing carbon from the atmosphere as it grows, Brazil’s current sugar cane production utilised by Braskem represents just 0.02% of the country’s arable land and is widely regarded as highly efficient and environmentally-friendly. 

“We’ve looked at this holistically, and we are very pleased to be able to offer customers the full range of Woolworths’ fresh milk packaged in green bottles that are kinder to the planet and help us move towards a more sustainable future together,” concludes Smith.

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