The yoghurt maker has switched more than 50% of its German packaging to PLA and bio-HDPE, thereby winning the Bioplastics Award 2011.
Danone's German business has won the Bioplastics Award 2011 for its "exceptional commitment" to an extensive use of bioplastics in the packaging of its dairy brand products.
The 6th annual award was organized by Bioplastics Magazine based in Germany. The award was launched by European Plastics News in 2006, and jointly organised it with Bioplastics Magazine in 2010.
The organisers said: "The judges are of the view that Danone, as an international brand owner, made a significant contribution to moving bioplastics from a niche packaging product to a mass market product with the introduction of Activia and Actimel in bioplastic packaging (PLA and Green HDPE). This means that today more than half of the Danone products in the German market are packaged in bioplastics."
Danone's pots also won a German Packaging Award in November.
NatureWorks of the US said in May last year that Danone was using its Ingeo PLA for about 80% of the total volume of all Activia products in Germany, including 4-packs and 8-packs of 115g pots of yoghurt. It added that Danone planned to expand the use of Ingeo PLA to include the other products in the Activia line (drinks, yogurt fruit purÃ ½e and the larger consumer formats) that account for the remaining 20%.
The Activia PLA pot was subjected to a life cycle assessment (LCA) study by the Heidelberg-based LCA Institute for Energy and Environmental Research (IFEU). NatureWorks said the switch to PLA was shown to improve the product's packaging carbon footprint by 25% and use 43% less fossil resources compared to the use of polystyrene in the previous packaging.
NatureWorks CEO, Marc Verbruggen, said: "NatureWorks worked closely with Danone, not only to supply the material solution, Ingeo, but also to rigorously address questions and provide data around the entire supply chain from field to product. Now we're continuing our collaboration to create a new option for recovery of the package after use."
NatureWorks and Danone are also working to achieve the International Sustainability and Carbon Certification (ISCC) for the new Activia packaging.
Danone is promoting the greater use of bioplastics among packaging companies in order to generate enough material use that a recycling system becomes viable. Many producers and users of bioplastics have previously suggested composting for waste PLA, but the efficiency of this disposal route has been questioned in a number of studies.
Dr Andreas Knaut, Danone's director of corporate communications, Health and Sustainability, said: "We hope that the award will motivate other companies to select bioplastics. It is only in this way that we will be able to establish a full recycling system, for example for PLA, and make full use of the material's potential."
Danone selected a different material, Braskem's bio-based HDPE, for its Actimel yoghurt drink bottles in Germany. Braskem developed the material to be almost identical to conventional PE, but uses bioethanol derived from sugar cane as feedstock.
The tie-up with Braskem extends to other Danone products in other countries. For example, Danone has converted 150g pots for Activia yoghurt and bottles for Danoninho Fermented Milk to bio-HDPE in the Brazil market.