6 February 2019 by Elizabeth Slow

Arla discounts UK for wood-based cartons

Food manufacturer Arla has announced it has become the first company in Finland to use gable-top food cartons made from renewable wood-based paperboard which can be recycled in the waste paper stream.

The cartons for milk, yoghurt and cooking products, are made from tall oil-based raw material – an innovation by forest-based bio-industry group, UPM. Tall oil is a by-product from the wood pulp manufacture process.

The new carton packaging can be recycled with cardboard, according to UPM

But, when contacted by letsrecycle.com, a spokesperson for Arla said it has “no confirmed plans” to bring the product to the UK as “access to wood chips in the UK is very different to availability in Finland”. This is despite the fact that the UK makes up 25% of the market for Arla, which is a Danish-owned farming business.

In total, more than 40 million Arla packages using the paperboard will become more “environmentally-friendly” in 2019, the company says to “reflect consumers’ wishes”.


According to UPM, the wood-based material, described by the company as ‘bioplastic’, is well suited to dairy product packaging as it has the same technical characteristics as the conventional plastic used in cartons. The new packaging can be recycled with cardboard, the company says.

In addition to the gable top packaging, Arla is also renewing its 150-gram Luonto+ yoghurt packaging by replacing the plastic pots and lids with paperboard. As a result, consumers will be able to recycle all parts of the new packaging in their cardboard collection, Arla says.

“When we have a liquid product such as milk, a thin plastic film is needed inside the carton for reasons of product safety and shelf life. In our new packaging, the source of plastic is now even more responsible because it is made of wood-based raw material,” says Arla’s brand & category manager, Sanna Heikfolk.

UPM’s Lappeenranta biorefinery utilises tall oil that is a residue of pulp production in the raw material for the new bioplastic cartons. The packaging is made by packaging supplier Elopak, and the Dow Chemical Company is also involved in the collaboration.

According to UPM, launching more ‘environmentally-friendly’ packaging in the food industry and for consumers has been a shared goal of Arla, Elopak and UPM. Arla and Elopak have been working together in this field since 2014.


“We wanted to launch a type of packaging that would be 100% wood-based and in which the plastic would also be wood based.”

Juha Oksanen.

“A conventional milk carton is usually about 85% paperboard. We wanted to launch a type of packaging that would be 100% wood-based and in which the plastic would also be wood based,” says Elopak’s managing director, Juha Oksanen.

“We are very pleased to be working with a pioneer such as Arla, with whom we can further reduce the carbon footprint of paperboard packaging for liquids using our renewable raw material, and this applies to the whole chain, up to the consumer. Also, by using wood-based raw materials we are not competing for raw materials with the food production industry, because tall oil is a residue of pulp production,” says Sari Mannonen, vice president at UPM Biofuels.


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