The Danone Group: Going Green One Cup at a Time

An innovative green packaging solution that uses sugarcane is Danone's newest noteworthy initiative
 Biodegradable Plastic Utensils

We’ve all seen cups and utensils made from “corn plastic,” or biodegradable polylactic acid that looks and acts pretty much like regular, oil-based plastic.

While corn-based items have drawn criticism for their actual level of biodegradability, it’s clear that their sources are more environmentally friendly than fossil-fuel plastics derived from petroleum and it’s about time a major company incorporated them into commercial packaging.

As part of its corporate objective to reduce its carbon footprint by 30 percent by 2012, Danone has incorporated green packaging technology that serves as a great model for other companies looking to go green.

The new Danone packaging process is called “expansion,” and uses a biodegradable, high-density sugarcane-based polyethylene for yogurt packaging. An inert agent is added to the polystyrene plastic, forming a thin layer of foam in the polystyrene and reducing its density.

It’s not biodegradable, but it can be recycled and will reduce the CO2 footprint of Danone’s DanActive, Danacol, Danino Go and Drinkable Activia containers by 55 percent.

“The packaging for Danone products accounts for 40 percent of our company’s ecological footprint, and is the second most important factor in terms of emissions. That’s why we’ve such devoted efforts in research and development,” said Danone Canada’s Manager of External Communications Anne-Julie Maltais.

Throughout its history the Danone Group has built a reputation for innovative product development. Last year, the brand introduced Taillefine—the first low-calorie, zero fat yogurt made with Stevia extract and its Fresh Dairy Products division has long sought to develop sustainable, healthy, technologically advanced items.

“Danone is committed to increasing the environmental sustainability of its business and this is reflected in the development of new packaging,” said Danone CEO Mariano Lozano. “In this aspect, the Activia and Danoninho brands are paving the way, while at the same time emphasizing their alignment with the wishes of consumers, who are keenly aware of sustainability-related issues.”

Danone has partnered with Braskem, a Brazilian petrochemical company, to create the packaging.

“The strengthening of our partnership with Danone around green plastic, globally associating brands that are synonyms for quality and reliability, creates value for both companies and reinforces the concept of the biopolymer as a solution that benefits sustainability,” said Braskem CEO Carlos Fadigas.

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