A COMMITMENT to sustainability has linked Western Australian dairy processors Bannister Downs Dairy and Brownes Dairy with wins at last week's 2020 Australasian Packaging Innovation and Design (PIDA) awards.
Ecolean won two gold medals at the PIDA awards as designer and manufacturer of the distinctive, biodegradable chalk pouch packaging of Bannister Downs' chilled pasteurised range of products.
As a consequence of the wins Bannister Downs' Ecolean packaging is now eligible to enter next year's WorldStar Packaging Awards where its practical advantages and environmental credentials will compete with those of other innovative packaging solutions from around the world.
Brownes Dairy's Tetra Pak renewable gable-top cartons made entirely from wood fibres and sugarcane, without need for a plastic membrane lining, won a silver medal in the PIDA awards' Packaging Innovation and Design of the Year - Beverage category.
Bannister Downs' Ecolean packaging won one of its gold medals in the same awards category, tying for first place with Coca-Cola Amatil's soft drink bottles made from recycled plastic packaging resins known as RPET material.
Judges found the light-weight, leak-proof, soft Ecolean packaging could be laid on its side and interlocked because of its shape taking up minimal space during transport, maintained coolness so the milk or cream inside remained fresher longer, could be frozen when sealed and microwaved to warm once the seal was broken.
The Bannister Downs pouch packaging also won a gold medal in the Accessible Packaging Design special awards category which is supported by Arthritis Australia and New Zealand.
The pouches' jug-like shape and perforated tear-off opening at the spout meant it was certified easy-to-open and easy-to-use.
Bannister Downs Dairy managing director Sue Daubney said a shared commitment to innovation and sustainability had resulted in a 15-year partnership with Ecolean.
"We have been working with Ecolean since we began our Bannister Downs Dairy brand and can attest to the dedication that Ecolean has put towards developing a packaging system which does so much more than simply serve as the packaging for our products," Ms Daubney said.
"They have been a key part of the work we do to ensure our business is not only at the forefront of innovation, but also to have as small an impact on our environment as possible.
"We have always believed Ecolean packaging to be the stand out above all other available options, so we were delighted to hear their designs are being recognised by others."
Brownes announced last September it was switching 25 product lines, including white milk, cream and its CHILL flavoured milk range, from traditional polyethylene plastic-lined cartons to Tetra Pak's renewable cartons - involving about 17.8 million milk cartons a year.
Brownes was the first Australian company to use the renewable carton.
On Monday Brownes' chief executive officer Tony Girgis said the transition to sustainable carton packaging was almost complete, with only some 225 and 300 millilitre small-pack product lines still to change.
"We were disappointed we didn't get gold, as our submission was clearly unique and novel," Mr Girgis said.
The winners in Ecolean pouches and RPET bottles have both been available for some years, while the renewable carton was a new innovation, he pointed out.
For the first time, the PIDA awards ceremony was held digitally over two days because of COVID-19 restrictions on gatherings, with more than 190 people registered to view the awards each day.
The awards, which are judged on sustainable packaging considerations, innovation in design and materials and changes undertaken to meet 2025 national packaging targets, have categories of Food; Beverage; Health, Beauty & Wellness; Domestic & Household and Labelling & Decoration.
The Packaging Innovation and Design of the Year - Food gold medal was won by a wool-lined, flat-pack, recyclable, biodegradable, renewable and compostable corrugated cardboard carton with fibreboard insert designed for the seafood industry to transport live lobsters.
The Planet Protector Packaging live lobster pack is designed to remove about 1.2 million polystyrene boxes from the seafood supply chain each year.