Rethinking Our Food and Drink Packaging

Every year, Australians use over 1 billion drink cartons. However, only around 1 in 5 of these get recycled despite recycling options being widely available. According to PlanetArk, most councils in Australia do recycle these cartons, made of a material called liquid paperboard. Once collected, it travels to paper mills where the cardboard is separated from any plastic and aluminium by soaking and swirling it all in water.

Established in 1886 and the oldest dairy company in the country, Brownes Dairy is an iconic company which has been producing dairy products in Australia for generations. In a new sustainable packaging move, it was announced this month that the business will be making the very bold decision to replace its existing milk cartons with an Australian first – a carton package made entirely from plant-based, renewable materials. The world’s very first fully renewable beverage carton to be produced is called the Tetra Rex Bio-based package, where its protective layers are derived from sugar cane. This offers a more sustainable alternative to your average milk cartons, stopping more plastic going in to the production line and our planet, and reducing our reliance on fossil fuel based polyethylene plastic.

CEO of Brownes Dairy, Tony Girgis, said of the new venture, “There is a lot of emphasis on the importance of recycling, but less of a focus on how we can make products more sustainable from the beginning. Brownes Dairy wanted to improve the sustainability of our packaging across the entire lifecycle of our products.” 

Switching 25 of its current milk carton products to the new sustainable packaging, Brownes Dairy will now be producing around 17.8 million compostable milk cartons per year.


Consumers globally are concerned about protecting the planet, with research showing people of all ages believe businesses should take responsibility for their impact on the environment. At Brownes Dairy, we wanted to support the global movement by looking at packaging across its entire lifecycle, from source to end of life,” said Girgis.

Another company making waves in the world of sustainable packaging is BioBag World Australia. Producing over 1 billion bags a year, the company says it “offers compostable alternatives to plastic bags that break down anywhere oxygen and microorganisms exist, with no toxic or microplastic residues.”

In South Australia alone, 10 MILLION snap lock bags are sent to landfill every year, used only once and thrown out. The biggest culprits are primary and high school students, where parents often opt for convenient options which they don’t have to wash after school. The problem with this single-use plastic usage is the huge amount of waste that ends up in landfill and our oceans. With BioBag World Australia producing compostable resealable bags as a plastic free alternative, these fully compostable bags can close the loop by ending up back in the earth (when put in your compost or council Organics bin).

If we can all put a little more thought in to how our food and drinks are packaged, these environmentally sustainable alternatives can have a large impact on the planet we all share.

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