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rPET school milk cup: fully recyclable cup made from recycled material
PET-MAN, Starlinger viscotec, Greiner Packaging, Schulmilchbauern Oberösterreich
Country: Austria
Category: Food
Three companies (recycling technology producer, sheet producer, packaging producer) and Austrian school milk producers established a closed recycling loop for yoghurt cups. The cups are made from 100% post-consumer recycled material (rPET), are mono-material and unprinted, thus fully recyclable. rPET cups cause one-third less CO2 emissions than glass bottles.
Since March 2021, the Austrian school milk producers use the new rPET cups. The implementation of the closed rPET school milk cup loop demonstrates what is necessary to establish circular packaging solutions for dairy products: (1) material choice rPET, (2) design for recycling, (3) collaboration along the value chain.
Category: SPECIAL AWARD - Sustainability
Special Award: Gold Award
rPET school milk cups are made from 100% recycled post-consumer PET. After their use, the cups are collected at the schools and recycled into the same product again. This means (1) no downcycling, but closed loop recycling in food safe quality and (2) packaging waste is avoided.
To package locally produced dairy products in climate-friendly packaging creates added value in the region Upper Austria. The inherent aspect of recycling education (collection of used packaging in schools) and the promotion of regional agriculture complements the sustainable model.
As part of the project, a carbon footprint analysis was carried out to determine the emission saving potential of the new rPET cup. With 21 g CO2-equivalent per cup, the rPET cup clearly outperforms the previously used packaging options. At 34 g CO2-equiv./packaging unit, the PP plastic cups cause 21% higher CO2 emissions than the rPET cup. The PS cup and the returnable glass even cause 50% more CO2 emissions compared to the rPET cup, with 42 g CO2-equiv./packaging unit each. rPET is thus clearly the more environmentally friendly alternative. Full study available at
The use of recycled material, the short distances and the lower make the collection of the cups particularly CO2 efficient. In comparison to reusable glass bottles, rPET cups need less energy throughout production, they are lighter and require less energy to be cleaned / recycled, which results in -30% CO2 emissions.
rPET school milk cups are designed for recycling (unprinted, monomaterial) thus 100% recyclable. After use the rPET cups are recovered and recycled in a closed loop into packaging for food contact again (= high-class recycling of post-consumer material, no downcycling!). All participants of the value chain collaborate and closed the recycling loop for school milk rPET cups.