The 4-oz cups in Germany switch from PS to polylactic acid.

For its Activia yogurt in Germany, Danone has switched from cups made of polystyrene to polylactic acid (PLA), a polymer derived from plants. Introduced into German markets in April, the new yogurt cup is the result of a close cooperation between Danone, WWF-Germany and Ingeo™ producerNatureWorks LLC.

Danone Activia yogurt cups involved in this first step include four- and eight-count packs of 115-gram (4-oz) cups.

The change to PLA improves the product’s packaging carbon footprint by 25% and use 43% less fossil resources compared to the previous packaging, according to a life cycle assessment (LCA) study conducted by the Heidelberg-based LCA Institute for Energy and Environmental Research (IFEU).

Danone is the first company to switch to PLA for a leading yogurt product in Europe.

“Going forward, it is increasingly important for companies and brands to realize that the path ahead is one of technological investment, sustainable development and high quality in all aspects of product production – packaging included,” says Andreas Ostermayr, CEO, Danone Germany and Switzerland. “With our partners, we have taken a first significant step in the packaging development of the future.”

NatureWorks, Danone and World Wildlife Fund are working to achieve the International Sustainability and Carbon Certification (ISCC) for the new Activia packaging. The ISCC seal assures that the entire supply chain for the Ingeo raw materials meets rigorous social and environmental criteria.

Danone notes that the change represents about 80% of the total volume of all Activia products in Germany. Moving forward, it plans to expand the use of the Ingeo-based PLA packaging to other products in the Activia line including drinks, yogurt fruit puree and the larger consumer formats that account for the remaining 20%.

NatureWorks is working with the industry towards a new end-of-life option for the Ingeo-based cup to guarantee the lowest environmental impact from sourcing use, disposal, recovery and re-use.