Case study

FrieslandCampina marks transition from HDPE to PET


After the announcement in 2021 of 100% recycled PET bottles for Cécémel, the switch from HDPE to PET is the next step in FrieslandCampina’s sustainability strategy. Thanks to this investment, all FrieslandCampina milk and cream products will be transferred, in a phased-in process, from HDPE bottles to PET bottles, which are made up of a maximum of recycled material. The first cream in PET bottles is now available.

Dairy products are often packaged in HDPE bottles. It is a sturdy, light and safe material that is also impenetrable as dairy is very sensitive to light. HDPE is also perfectly recyclable via the PMD. The disadvantage, however, is that recycled HDPE may not yet be used to produce new food packaging. The recycled HDPE is used, for example, to make non-food packaging, as well as boxes, crates and tubes. These are perfect applications within a circular approach. For the use of recycled material in drinks packaging, the European requirements are, however, becoming increasingly stricter. FrieslandCampina is adapting its policy to be in line with these, and is therefore moving from HDPE to opaque PET.


Packaging made of recycled materials

Opaque PET is a material that is increasingly being used to replace HDPE in food applications. Like HDPE, its opacity protects the product from light and the sun, which is important for dairy. And just like other PET fractions, food packaging in opaque PET can and may also be made of recycled materials.

Opaque PET is a new type of material, and will be the 15th fraction to be sorted in the sorting centres for the blue bag starting in 2023. At present, there are pilot projects underway, so that opaque PET bottles that are already ending up in the PMD category are also sorted and then recycled. In January 2022, the contract was awarded for a new recycling plant in Neufchâteau, which will recycle complex PET packaging, including PET trays and opaque PET bottles. From 2024, the material will thus also be recycled in Belgium. (Read more)

Recycling this new type of material means a considerable investment for industry. It is the best sign of their dedication. The recycling chain for a new material is, after all, never profitable from the outset. The sorting lines need to be modified, for example. Via the Green Dot, companies pay the costs of collection, sorting and recycling of their packaging.


Environmentally friendly lid

All FrieslandCampina bottles will in due course have an environmentally friendly lid or tethered cap that remains attached to the bottle. This is mandatory starting in July 2024 for PET bottles up to 3 litres. The aim is to recycle the lids together with the bottles and thus prevent littering. The sorting instructions already suggest that it is best to flatten the bottles completely and then replace the lid. This saves room in the PMD bag and prevents the bottles from rolling along the sorting line.

The first PET packaging for cream will be in the shops as from November 2022.