resim 514
resim 514

Are dairy products really our friends for life? According to Syndifrais, a professional organization for dairy products, the French consume on average the equivalent of 28.6 kilograms per year per inhabitant. This represents nearly 229 pots of 125 grams. Added to this are the figures from INSEE concerning yogurts. There are more than 170 pots of yogurt per inhabitant gobbled up each year, or 21 kilograms.

Over ten years, yoghurt consumption has increased by 20%. But this love for this dairy product has consequences. In fact, that’s a total of 1.95 million tonnes of yogurt thrown away. But most packaging is not recycled. Indeed, according to our colleagues from Parisian, these plastic boxes are mostly made of polystyrene. Thus, several associations, such as WWF, have taken the dairy industry to court. The latter then presented its roadmap for reducing the rate of plastic in its production.

From May 27 to June 2, 2023, 175 countries met at UNESCO in Paris to begin negotiations on plastic pollution. Welcomed by Christophe Béchu, Minister for the Ecological Transition, and Catherine Colonna, Minister for Foreign Affairs, the representatives of each country were tasked with finding common ground regarding the production of this pollutant. The results will be presented at the next session to be held at the end of the year in Kenya.

Four days later, on June 6, it was therefore the dairy industry’s turn to react in turn by proposing measures to reduce the use of plastic in the production of jars for dairy products. “Of the 8.2 billion plastic pots produced each year by our members, 83% are made of PS (polystyrene). To date, this material can be recycled in an open loop, i.e. we manufactures other things from this deposit. Tomorrow, we will make yogurt pots from yogurt pots, “said Muriel Casé, general delegate of Syndifrais, to Parisian. However, this promise seems compromised. Indeed, can we really part with this non-recyclable plastic? But above all, in how long could these measures be applied?

You have surely already seen glass or cardboard jars in the fresh section of your supermarket. So why wouldn’t it be so simple to replace polystyrene? “Glass is much heavier, which means more fuel in transport, for example, it must be taken into account. Be careful not to sacrifice the environmental footprint to the fight against plastic pollution”, answers Muriel Casé . Moreover, our deposit system in France would not be developed enough to allow a total transition to glass.

Another reason that would have led manufacturers to keep using a polluting plastic for years is none other than the speed of production. Indeed, the production of polystyrene pots is 80,000 per hour, compared to 7,200 to 43,200 for other plastics. How do manufacturers intend to reduce this rate?

Manufacturers are therefore not going to get rid of polystyrene. Instead, they are aiming for “a standardization towards white and translucent pots”, explains Muriel Casé. But removing the logos and colors from the jars, is that really enough? Other measures are envisaged such as the use of large formats which would put an end to individual pots. “You still have to check that consumers are ready because the small jars also give an individual caloric portion”, adds Muriel Casé.

Manufacturers would also like to promote the use of cardboard or paper. They then estimate a saving of 1,079 tonnes of polystyrene if 10% of production is made of cardboard in 2030. Finally, in accordance with the anti-waste law which requires a reduction in single-use plastic, the dairy industry would like to test a yogurt dispenser to drink by 2030.

For the moment, no date has therefore been announced for any of these measures. It will take a few more years for these proposals to be implemented or for the individual pots to disappear.