Danone, WWF Germany, NatureWorks launching new biobased plastic yogurt pack for 80% of Activia products in Germany, says move will improve carbon footprint by 25%

MINNETONKA, Minnesota , May 18, 2011 (press release) – Danone has switched to Ingeo™ – a plastic from plants, not oil – for its Activia yogurt in Germany. The new yogurt pack is the result of a close cooperation between Danone, WWF-Germany and Ingeo producer NatureWorks. The switch to the technologically innovative material will improve the product’s packaging carbon footprint by 25 percent and use 43 percent less fossil resources compared to the previous packaging, according to a life cycle assessment (LCA) study conducted by the Heidelberg-based LCA Institute for Energy and Environmental Research (IFEU). Danone is the first company to switch to environmentally friendly packaging for a leading yogurt product in Europe.

“Going forward, it is increasingly important for companies and brands to realize that the path ahead is one of technological investment, sustainable development and high quality in all aspects of product production – packaging included,” says Andreas Ostermayr, CEO Danone Germany and Switzerland. “With our partners, we have taken a first significant step in the packaging development of the future.”

In terms of the aggregate annual environmental benefit associated with the Activia pack switch, NatureWorks estimates fossil energy savings equivalent to the electricity consumed per month by 13,000 German homes, along with greenhouse gas savings equivalent to not driving a vehicle 19,000,000 km.

With the choice of Ingeo, Danone addressed three product elements in its development of the Activia eco-friendly yogurt pack. First, Activia, which is a product designed to improve digestive comfort, was previously packaged in polystyrene. The new packaging needed to combine high-performance and quality with the sustainable standards of today and tomorrow, and the entire process needed to be more environmentally friendly and sustainable, with no compromise on quality or performance for the end consumer. Additionally, NatureWorks is working with the industry to realize a wholly new end-of-life option for the Ingeo-based cup to guarantee the lowest environmental impact from sourcing use, disposal, recovery and re-use.

“The Activia packaging is an excellent example of international collaboration for a smarter consumer product and one we are proud to showcase as an international best practice example,” says NatureWorks chief executive officer, Marc Verbruggen. “NatureWorks worked closely with Danone and WWF, 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.”

Together, NatureWorks, Danone and WWF are working to achieve the International Sustainability and Carbon Certification (ISCC) for the new Activia packaging. The ISCC seal assures that the entire supply chain for the Ingeo raw materials meets rigorous social and environmental criteria.

Danone notes that the change represents about 80 percent of the total volume of all Activia products in Germany, and that moving forward, it plans to expand the use of the Ingeo-based packaging to include the other products in the Activia line (drinks, yogurt fruit puree and the larger consumer formats) that account for the remaining 20 percent*.

The end result of the international product development collaboration between Danone, WWF and NatureWorks is a packaging option that is indistinguishable visually and performance-wise from its predecessor, while at the same time being better for the environment.

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