One of the main reasons people switch to a plant-based diet is because of the environmental impact that removing meat and dairy can have. Evidence from a University of Oxford study in 2018 showed that a vegan diet is the ‘single biggest way to reduce your impact on planet Earth’. On top of this, there is growing consumer demand for more consciously designed and ethical products, which means considering packaging as one of many things.
Switching to non-dairy milk dramatically reduces your carbon footprint. You can check this on various apps and websites such as the BBC Climate Change Calculator. For example, drinking dairy milk one to two times per week contributes 49kg of carbon emissions per year, whereas consuming oat milk one to two times per week contributes 14kg carbon emissions per year.
ANY plant-based milk produces less CO2 emissions than dairy milk but once you’ve made the switch to plant-based milk, there is another step you could take to further reduce your CO2 emissions. Why not look for a local refill milk supplier or try making your own plant milk?
The main plant-based milk brands, including Oatly, Alpro and Califa Farms, all use Tetra Pak cartons for packaging their milk. Like plastic, there are many issues with recycling Tetra Pak. The Tetra Pak Sustainability Report 2020 highlights the recycling rate in 2019 was only 26 per cent.
One of the issues with recycling Tetra Pak is that the cartons need to go to a specialist recycling plant to undergo the process of dismantling the paperboard, plastic and aluminium parts of the carton. Unfortunately, not all local authorities offer kerbside collection of cartons and they need to travel to reach a specific plant.