Green Packaging Star Award received for sustainable school milk project

29/10/2021 | 2 min read
Theresa Wieser

In a world first, school milk is now being supplied in 100 percent sustainable cups made of recycled PET (r-PET) in the state of Upper Austria. The innovation comes courtesy of a collaboration between Austria’s school milk producers and three Upper Austrian companies: PET-MAN, Greiner Packaging, and Starlinger Viscotec. This joint project is showing that a sustainable circular economy is possible. The project has now received recognition in the form of a Green Star Packaging Award, which was bestowed by Austrian trade magazine Kompack at the end of October.

The Green Star Packaging Awards have been running since 2008. The awards are intended to highlight eco-friendly packaging solutions, recycling, and packaging-related improvements in production, logistics, and distribution that focus strongly on the environment. The Sustainably Packaged School Milk project was particularly impressive this year. This is not the first time that Greiner Packaging has won the award, which it received alongside all of its project partners.

100% r-PET – a closed recycling loop

The school milk project promotes closed-loop recycling, making it an ideal example of an environmentally friendly packaging solution. 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, white, unprinted cups are gathered and returned for recycling to the school milk producers. Once collected, these containers are picked up from the farm, washed, and shredded. The resulting flakes are then cleaned and processed. At Greiner Packaging, the extruded plastic sheet is ultimately used to thermoform new r-PET cups, which are then refilled by the farmers and delivered once again to schools and kindergartens. The recycling loop for r-PET makes it a material with a promising future – and as things stand, recycled PET is the only postconsumer 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.

Regional product in regional packaging

The entire school milk loop takes place within Upper Austria. The cows graze in local pastures, and the cups are filled with fresh milk at the dairy farms before being delivered to the schools. Thanks to the partnership between local businesses PET-MAN, Greiner Packaging, and Starlinger Viscotec, locally produced school milk can be supplied to kindergartens and schools in Upper Austria. Thanks to the project, which also picked up a Trigos award in mid-September, children can be taught to treat nature sustainably from a young age.

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