Laiterie de Coaticook: When plastic is an ally

Case study

Laiterie de Coaticook: When plastic is an ally

Ice cream, a symbol of summer, symbolizes simple pleasures and lazy days. Everyone has their favourite flavour and brand, and this dessert comes in many different types of containers.

People have a lot of questions regarding these containers: Are they really ecological and eco-responsible? Should we prioritize plastic or laminated cardboard? When Laiterie de Coaticook wanted to further analyze the ecological footprint of its ice cream tubs, the eco-design approach caught their attention.

Focus on Laiterie de Coaticook and the Provenchers for their project to review the life cycle of their star product: the 2L ice cream tub.

Citizens with a thousand and one questions

Laiterie de Coaticook ice cream lovers like the trademark rigid plastic tub the company has packaged its product in for many years. The idea of being able to reuse it for a variety of things - storing food leftovers, arts and craft supplies, crayons and much more - should be maintained without altering the product's quality.

Although many people believe plastic should be banned, the lifecycle analysis revealed its relevance in terms of recyclability and market value once it exits material recovery facilities. Based on those analysis results, Laiterie de Coaticook chose to continue using it.

Packaging item footprint

In Quebec, plastics #1, #2 and #5 have the highest rate of recyclability. According to RECYC-QUÉBEC, #2 plastic (HDPE plastic) offers an excellent recovery rate of almost 70%, compared to laminated board containers (from well-known ice cream brands), which have a recovery rate of around 25%.

Material recovery facilities sell bales of materials to processors and recyclers who then transform them. #2 plastic used for ice cream tubs from Laiterie de Coaticook has a better resale value compared to all other plastics, in addition to being an interesting material for processors and recyclers, who will find a new vocation for them.

Also, packaging made of laminated board are usually made of several layers, which complicates the sorting and recycling process. Those complex packages make it harder to find buyers who will be interested in transforming them. Simplified packages, meaning those that are made of as few different materials as possible, should be given priority as they are more easily recyclable in addition to being attractive to a good number of buyers.

Packaging reinvented: Non-negligible positive impacts 

Following the packaging ecodesign process undertaken by Laiterie Coaticook, several interesting elements can be highlighted:

  • Choose greener materials: Using polypropylene (PP) instead of HDPE for the cover has cut environmental impacts, as PP has a lower GHG emission coefficient.
  • Optimize the packaging/product ratio: The total weight of the container has decreased by 5% while maintaining the same quantity of ice cream per 2L container.
  • Reduce the impacts of energy consumption: The container's seal has been replaced by a security seal, which eliminates the heating step and reduces energy consumption.
  • Improve the consumer's experience: The product's lifetime has increased.

When selecting or improving your packaging, it's important to consider the following elements: material, recyclability, environmental impact, etc... Being informed is still key, and that will help you make better choices at the grocery store!

Are you thinking of getting started on eco-responsible packaging? ÉEQ has a team of experts dedicated to that very process. Write to us to find out more.