Chobani Swaps Plastic for Sustainable Paper Cups on Yogurts

Chobani adds a new sustainability measure to its production process and introduces a paper cup for its signature vegan oat milk-based yogurt. Best known for its Greek-style yogurt range, the company announced that it is redesigning its packaging to produce a more sustainably-made container. The new packaging cups will consist of 80 percent cardboard to replace most of the plastic in the previous design. The grocery brand is currently packaging its cold-brewed coffee, creamer and oat milk in cardboard boxes, making oat milk yogurt the very latest in their entire sustainable initiative.

“We all have a role to play in protecting our planet,” said Chobani founder and CEO Hamdi Ulukaya. “People have asked for a paper cup, and we welcome the challenge of reducing our plastic consumption and starting a conversation about how we can work together to drive change.”

Even if the company wants to reduce plastic production with this decision, the recycling of mixed material packaging remains a difficult process. While Chobani is still making packaging from mixed materials, the company is calling for the recycling industry to restructure its practices. The national recycling industry comprises more than 10,000 municipal recycling centers with their own rules.

Despite the discrepancies between recycling facilities that could complicate this change, Chobanis CEO hopes this change will encourage industry-wide repackaging as well as more in-depth recycling practices. “This paper cup is a step in the right direction, but only the beginning,” explained Ulankaya, speaking about the company’s sustainability goals for the future. The food company will complete the rollout of its cardboard oat yogurt pots by the end of the year while developing sustainable packaging for its other products.

Chobani also plans to partner with the Sustainable Packaging Coalition to advocate improvements to recycling infrastructure across the country. Faced with mounting concerns about waste and excess plastic production, the company is looking not only to redesign its own product packaging, but also to restructure the recycling industry.

“Innovative packaging often challenges current US recycling capabilities,” the company said. “As part of our work to bring this cup to market, we will continue to work with partners, including the Sustainable Packaging Coalition and policy makers, to advocate improvements that expand the recycling infrastructure in this country.”

In addition to introducing paper as a substitute for plastic, Chobani has expanded its range of plant-based products in recent years. The company’s plant-based expansion contributes to its overall sustainability efforts. A 2018 study by Oxford University found that milk milk production causes three times more greenhouse gas emissions than plant-based milk. The study also concluded that the production of milk required almost ten times as much land as oat milk.

Chobani’s oat milk range debuted in early 2019 with five different flavors including strawberry, vanilla, peach, light sweet plain and blueberry. In addition to the single-serve cups, Chobani introduced a range of yogurt drinks, including Mango, Slightly Sweet Plain, Strawberry and Vanilla Chai.

After its success in oat milk yogurt, the company began researching the coffee sector and developed its first barista oat milk product. The company continued this production and launched two oat-based cream jugs in the original and vanilla flavors. The oat milk range now includes ready-to-drink coffee beverages with the characteristic oat milk.

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