In 2015, Valio, Finland, was said to be the first company in the world to start using plant-based cartons. Today, all of its gable top milk, sour milk, cream and yogurt cartons are 100% plant-based, thus reducing 3,140 tons of CO2 emissions every year.

The cartons’ cardboard and plastic parts are all made of plant-based materials. The cartons are made of wood-fiber cardboard. And, the renewable plastic used to make the caps and line the carton is made from plant ethanol.

In the spring, Valio and the Baltic Sea Action Group, Finland, will begin to train dairy farms in carbon farming on how to bind carbon to the soil and share existing good farming practices. The energy in cow manure can also be used to replace fossil fuels in the future.

Valio also aims toward making all of its gable top juice cartons out of renewable plant-based material.

“Development of the juice carton plastic layer has gone well, and we will be able to produce nearly 100% plant-based juice cartons as soon as this year,” says Tanja Virtanen-Leppä, packaging development manager. “Our goal is to be smart about reducing our total environmental effect—the right kinds of packages protect the products and prevent food waste and plant-based packaging reduces the products’ carbon footprint. We are also increasing our use of recycled raw material, and encourage consumers to recycle our packaging correctly.”

“Valio’s packaging development is guided strongly by the fact that people want our packages to be fully plant-based. There are also packages on the market that are only partially plant-based, with part of the raw material being fossil. In these solutions, the calculated share of plant-based material is based on the mass balance of the raw materials, not 100% renewable materials—the plastic is made with fossil oil and only a small part of the raw material is actually plant-based,” adds Virtanen-Leppä.

Valio Sweden also changed its yogurt cartons to plant-based packages. The next step is to move also other milk products into plant-based packaging.