Towards more eco-friendly packages
Altia’s objective is to minimise the environmental impact of its own activities. More eco-friendly solutions are pursued by, for example, reducing the environmental impact generated by beverage packages. According to a survey examining the environmental impact of alcoholic beverages in the Nordic countries, the production of packages is, alongside agriculture, one of the two production phases with the biggest impact on the environment.
Altia uses various types of packages: glass bottles make up 52.6 per cent of its packages, PET bottles 38.6 per cent, bag-in-box containers 5.2 per cent, wine pouches 0.3 per cent, tetra-packs 2.8 per cent and aluminium cans 0.5 per cent. In addition, we use transport packages and seasonal gift packages.
Cardboard and plastic packages are more eco-friendly choices than glass bottles
According to the survey, the combined environmental load of glass bottles is clearly higher than that of other package types (45 per cent of the environmental impact caused by packaging production). The impacts of cardboard and plastic packages, as well as aluminium cans, are smaller and nearly equal as compared to each other, with each package type’s load being 16–18 per cent. Efficient deposit and recycling systems do their share in reducing the environmental impact of packages. For example, the recycling rate for PET bottles in the Nordics is 83 to 95 per cent.
At Altia, the environmental impact of glass bottles has been lowered by reducing the amount of glass used in bottles. Altia had projects to lighten glass bottles underway during 2017, due to which we are using 411,000 kilos less glass per year. In quantitative terms, this is equal to roughly a million bottles. Lighter bottles generate savings not only in materials, but also in the costs of logistics. During recent years Altia has also reduced the weight of PET bottles.
The eco-friendliness of packages is considered from the product development phase
During the product development phase, Altia’s packages are designed to use eco-friendly materials whenever possible. The design also aims to optimise the amount of the used materials as precisely as possible, to avoid excess packaging. The packaging machine investment we made in 2016, for example, allowed us to reduce the amount of cardboard by 122,000 kilos per year.
Altia also aims to increase the proportion of recycled materials in its packaging materials. The proportion of recycled material in the glass bottles used by Altia is high: in clear bottles it is 20–70 per cent, and in colour bottles 70–90 per cent. In cardboard transport packages, recycled material makes up around 10 per cent of the total material used in the production of the packages. However, increasing this proportion is challenging, since recycled fibre is less durable than virgin fibre.
Altia engages in continuous cooperation with raw material and material suppliers to reduce and lighten packaging materials and to advance the recyclability of packages. In addition, we are constantly looking for innovative packaging solutions.
 Weidema B P, de Saxcé M, Muñoz I. (2016). Environmental impacts of alcoholic beverages as distributed by the Nordic Alcohol Monopolies 2014. 1.-0 LCA consultants, Aalborg.