Dean Foods continually refines the design and specifications of our packaging to ensure it provides superior protection of our products while using only the necessary amount of materials.
2020 Packaging Goal
When Dean Foods expanded its environmental sustainability goals in 2012, we added a goal to create our first packaging goal by the end of 2013. While we seek to improve all packaging related to our business, our packaging goals focus on plastic jugs and crates, paperboard and corrugated cardboard, since they represent the majority of our packaged materials. We aim to create more sustainable packaging by increasing recycled content and recycling awareness, and expanding the use of certified materials.
Our primary packages – HDPE resin gallon and half-gallon containers – are among the most recyclable of food and beverage packaging. Continued innovation helps Dean Foods reduce the amount of resin used in our HDPE gallon and half-gallon containers. In 2007, we began using lighter weight containers for many of our products, eventually reducing many of our gallon containers from 63 to 58 grams of HDPE.
In 2012, we saved an additional 272 tons of HDPE resin by introducing an improved light-weight system for caseless products across our supply chain.
Cardboard on Corrugate
In 2009, we began introducing recycled content in our corrugated cardboard from suppliers, which is a major source of our secondary packaging*. We currently require all of our corrugated suppliers to use a minimum of 20 percent recycled content. By 2018, we will require them to increase the use of recycled content to a minimum of 25 percent.
*Secondary packaging is the box or wrapping that protects the primary product and does not come into direct contact with the product.
Materials from Certified Sources
Additionally, we source corrugated cardboard from suppliers that ensure their materials come from responsibly managed forests. By the end of 2014, we will require all corrugated cardboard and other paperboard suppliers to use 100 percent certified materials. We will accept certifications from reputable organizations including Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), Sustainable Forest initiative (SFI), Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) or equivalent.
HDPE Plastic milk crates are the primary way we distribute products to our customers. Milk crates are very durable, highly recyclable and can be used at least 100 times before they're recycled into new milk crates or or other products.
Dean Foods supports the Carton Council's initiative to raise awareness about carton recycling and purchases paperboard cartons exclusively from members of the Carton Council. In 2012, Dean Foods began including the qualified recycle logo on cartons when possible to encourage consumer recycling. This included adding the recycle symbol to our national brand -TruMoo - school milk cartons. As packaging graphics change in the future, we will adopt the recycle symbol to be included on all branded carton packaging. For more information about the Carton Council, visit www.recyclecartons.com.
Recycled Label Backing
Several Dean Foods facilities recycle their pressure sensitive label backing material. Approximately 260 tons of backing material is recycled every year through our partnership with Greenwood Energy, which creates high-energy, biomass fuel pellets by recycling industrial, pre-consumer waste products. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has certified Greenwood pellets as a non-waste fuel produced from secondary, non-hazardous waste materials. The pellets are designed to be a coal substitute and result in significantly less sulfur, NOx and CO emissions when burned properly.