The eco-friendly pack

From agricultural waste, a new life for paper packaging

What about a greener milk packaging solution, instead of plastic, and lighter than glass? A nice concept designed by a Canadian student is made out of sugarcane bagasse molded pulp paper, internally coated with sugarcane lignin and printed with vegetable based inks.

Barbara Merlo

Each year milk packaging is one of the largest beverage container wastes in landfills. Whether they are plastic jugs, plastic milk bags, or plastic coated cartons, they all depend on the extraction of oil, and oil is a non-renewable resource that is running out.

Narani Kannan, Canadian design student at the Ontario College of Art & Design. She created «Gotta Moo!»

Narani Kannan, design student at the Ontario College of Art & Design, has focused her attention on an eco-friendly milk packaging solution, all based on food safe materials. The result is «Gotta Moo!», a very nice concept of packaging milk carton.

The goal for this project was to ideate and design an innovative, ergonomic and more eco-friendly milk package for the food and beverage industry. A package that would avoid using virgin trees paper, plastic and plastic coated products.

The product is made from bagasse molded pulp paper, internally coated with sugarcane lignin and all printed with vegetable based inks. This method replaces the conventional plastic and plastic coated paper packaging for milk. All components of this package don’t rely on oil extraction. The new molded pulp milk packaging solution will be compostable and recyclable and could be an eco-friendly vision of the future.

Meaning and materials

«My aim for this research & design project «, says Narani, «was to come up with a friendlier milk packaging solution and an innovative carton design solution, that would stay away from virgin trees paper, plastic and plastic coated products as much as possible in the food and beverage industry». Bagasse is an annually renewable plant resource and is compostable and recyclable. However, it’s normally seen as a waste product and incinerated, thus creating air pollution. Making a milk package out of residual sugarcane fiber actually decreases air pollution, adds value to the package, it is an eco-friendly and a non-invasive resource. This solution minimizes greenhouse gas emissions and can replace plastic bottles and virgin tree based paper laminated cartons, replacing them with a new alternative sugarcane lignin coating. Furthermore, the use of bagasse helps prevent the destruction of 30,000 acres of forest land every year. «This material», adds Narani, «can stand temperatures up to 190 degrees Fahrenheit, it is microwavable, freezer safe and extremely hygienic, and will be sterilized, sanitized and exposed to high temperatures during the molding process». Sugarcane Bagasse is one of the most plentiful by products of the sugar production process, and for every ton of refined sugar produced, there are two tons of bagasse produced as well. It is extremely light weight and has excellent performance characteristics. «Bagasse is in itself an agricultural waste», says the designer and she adds: «It is represented as 100% recycled material. There is an abundant supply of bagasse in the world. What better way is there to make a milk paper carton than using abundant, sustainable, clean material made from agricultural waste! ».

Attractive for consumers

«When designing my package», explains Narani, « I wanted to have maximum shelf impact. I wanted to attract and target consumers as they walk down an aisle full of milk packages to motivate them and pick up Gotta Moo’s package. My goal was to incorporate fresh bold and lucid colors and also maintain the current color palette for milk flavors (e.g.: pink for strawberry taste; brown for the chocolate one; light blue, violet and yellow for 2%, 1% and 0,5% fat milk respectively). Each carton has large readable text with fun, tasty and mouth-watering words, which describes milk as an enjoyable nutritious beverage, but also educates consumers about its package and how it benefits their health and environment». The pack «speaks» to consumers.

Each carton has large, readable text with fun, tasty and mouth-watering words

The importance of packaging sustainability

Despite the economic crisis that began in 2008, paper-based packaging market is enjoying a wind of revival driven by convenience, affordability, recyclability and by its eco-friendly nature and emerging acceptance amongst people. Consumer demand is growing especially in North America, Europe, China, India and Brazil. Furthermore, an increased emphasis on recyclability due to the evolving regulations in the packaging industry is driving the sector.

Pro Carton (the Association of European Cartonboard and Carton Manufacturers) commissioned to GfK, one of the world’s largest research companies, a study about «Consumer Attitudes on Packaging & Sustainability». The report shows that sustainability in packaging is important and consumers are interested in and concerned about this issue. Over 64% of respondents said that packaging should consist of environmentally friendly materials and over 55% felt that packaging should contain as little plastic as possible. People are aware that cartons are made from a renewable resource and that they can be recovered and recycled more effectively than other materials. Consumers also felt that cartons made of cartonboard were easier to recognize on the shelf.



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